Organizational Development and Industrial Democracy: A Current Case-study

  • Eric J. Miller


‘What do rural development in Mexico and studies of health care systems have in common with organizational change and development in industry?’ The person who asked that question was looking at a list of Tavistock Institute projects. One thing they have in common is that they are all fields in which for some time I have been personally committed in a consultancy-research role. Beyond that, I brought to this work, partly from a background in social anthropology, and more specifically through the influence of other Tavistock colleagues, a set of concepts, values and methods, which in turn have been developed and modified in the course of my experience. Indeed, I have been struck by the extent to which insights gained in one field illuminate another situation which on the face of it may seem quite dissimilar. How far, however, is the similarity something imposed by me? It is inevitable that to some extent I must be re-defining ‘reality’ in order to defend myself from more dissonance than I can cope with. For that reason, I propose in the first part of this paper to describe briefly some of the thinking I brought to, and have derived from, certain of these experiences, especially those outside industry, so that the reader may form his own judgments about the preconceptions and biases that may be structuring my picture of reality. This will set the scene for an account, in the second part, of an ongoing piece of work in a manufacturing company.


Organizational Development General Manager Primary Task Human Relation Industrial Democracy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bertalanffy, L. von, ‘The theory of open systems in physics and biology’, Science (1950a) 3, 23–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bertalanffy, L. von, ‘An outline of general system theory’, British Journal of the Philosophy of Science (1950b) 1, 134–65.Google Scholar
  3. Bion, W.R., ‘Experiences in groups, I–VII’, Human Relations (1948–51), 1–4; repr. in W.R. Bion, Experiences in groups and other papers, ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1961, 1968 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Emery, F.E. and Trist, E.L., ‘Socio-technical systems’, in C.W. Churchman and M. Verhulst (eds.), Management Science: models and techniques, vol. 2 ( Oxford: Permagon Press, 1960 ).Google Scholar
  5. Etzioni, A., Modern organizations ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964 ).Google Scholar
  6. Friere, P., The pedagogy of the oppressed ( London: Penguin, 1972a ).Google Scholar
  7. Friere, P., Cultural action for freedom ( London: Penguin, 1972b ).Google Scholar
  8. Goffman, E., Asylums: essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates ( Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968 ).Google Scholar
  9. Higgin, G.W. and Bridger, H., The psychodynamics of an inter-group experience, Tavistock Pamphlet no. 10 ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1964 ).Google Scholar
  10. Hopper, E. and Weyman, A., ‘A sociological view of large groups’ in L. Kreeger (ed.),The large group: therapy and dynamics ( London: Constable, 1975 ) pp. 159–89.Google Scholar
  11. Jaques, E., ‘On the dynamics of social structure’, Human Relations (1953) 6, 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jaques, E., Work, creativity and social justice (London: Heinemann, 1970), ch. 1.Google Scholar
  13. Klein, M., ‘Our adult world and its roots in infancy’, Human Relations (1959) 12, 291–303; repr. as Tavistock Pamphlet no. 2; (London: Tavistock Publications,1960).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lawrence, W.G. and Robinson, P. (1975). ‘An innovation and its implementation: issues of evaluation’, Tavistock Institute, document Document no. CASR 1069 (unpublished).Google Scholar
  15. Levinson, H., Organizational diagnosis ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  16. Lewin, K., Principles in topological psychology ( New York: McGraw Hill, 1936 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lewin, K., ‘Frontiers in group dynamics: I. Concept, method and reality in social sciences; social equilibria and social change’, Human Relations (1947) 1, 5–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lewin, K., Field theory in social sicnece( New York: Harper Bros., 1950 ).Google Scholar
  19. Lupton, T., “Best fit” in the design of organizations’ in E.J. Miller (ed.), Task and Organization ( London: Wiley, 1976 ) pp. 23–149.Google Scholar
  20. Main, T., ‘Some psychodynamics of large groups’ in L. Kreeger (ed.), The large group: therapy and dynamics ( London: Constable, 1975 ) pp. 57–86.Google Scholar
  21. Menzies, I.E.P., ‘A case-study in the functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety’, Human Relations (1960) 13, 95–121; repr. as Tavistock Pamphlet no. 3; ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1961 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miller, E.J., ‘Technology, territory and time: the intemal differentiation of complex production systems’, Human Relations (1959) 12, 243–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Miller, E.J. and Rice, A.KSystems of organizations: the control of task and sentient boundaries ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1967 ).Google Scholar
  24. Miller, E.J. and Gwynne, G.V., A life apart: a pilot study of residential institutions for the physically handicapped and the young chronic sick ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  25. Miller, E.J. and Gwynne, G.V. (1973), ‘Dependence, interdependence, and counterdependence in residential institutions for incurables’ in R. Gosling (ed.), Support, innovation, and autonomy: Tavistock Clinic golden jubilee papers ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1973 ).Google Scholar
  26. Miller, E.J., ‘Socio-technical systems in weaving, 1953–70: a follow-up study’, Human Relations (1975) 28, 349–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Miller, E.J., ‘The open-system approach to organizational analysis, with special reference to the work of A.K. Rice’ in G. Hofstede, and M. Sami Kassem (eds.), European contributions to organization theory (Assen/Amsterdam: Van Gorcum) pp. 43–61.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, E.J., ‘Introductory essay: role perspectives and the understanding of organizational behaviour’ in Task and Organization ( London: Wiley, 1966 ) pp. 1–18.Google Scholar
  29. Money-Kyrle, R.E., Man’s picture of his world: a psycho-analytic study (London: Duckworth, 1961) ch. 4.Google Scholar
  30. Rice, A.K., ‘The use or unrecognised cultural mechanisms in an expanding machine-shop’ (Glacier Project — Ill) Human Relations (1951) 4, 143–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rice, A.K., Productivity and social organization: the Ahmedabad experiment ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1958 ).Google Scholar
  32. Rice, A.K., The enterprise and its environment: a system theory of management organization ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1963 ).Google Scholar
  33. Rice, A.K., Learning for leadership: interpersonal and intergroup relations ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1965 ).Google Scholar
  34. Rice, A.K., ‘Individual, group and intergroup’, Human Relations (1969) 22, 565–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schein, E. Organizational psychology ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 196 ).Google Scholar
  36. Trist, E.L. and Bamforth, K.W., ‘Some social and psychological consequences of the longwall method of coal-getting’, Human Relations (1951) 4, 3–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Trist, E.L. and Sofer, C., Exploration in group relations ( Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1959 ).Google Scholar
  38. Trist, E.L., Higgin, G.W., Murray, H., and Pollock, A.B., Organizational choice ( London: Tavistock Publications, 1963 ).Google Scholar
  39. Turquet, P.M., ‘Leadership: the individual and the group’ in G.S. Gibbard, J.J. Hartman, and R.D. Mann (eds.), Analysis of Groups ( San Francisco/London: Jossey-Bass, 1974 ) pp. 349–71.Google Scholar
  40. Turquet, P.M., ‘Threats to identity in the large group’ in L. Kreeger (ed.), The large group: therapy and dynamics ( London: Constable, 1975 ) pp. 87–144.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric J. Miller

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations