The Cultural and Social Shaping of Factory Automation: Towards a New Research Agenda

  • J. Martin Corbett


Social scientists have been investigating the impact of factory automation on work and organisation for many decades and yet no clear picture has emerged from these research endeavours. On the one hand, there is evidence that factory automation (as an independent research variable) has a direct impact on organisation structure (Woodward, 1965), shopfloor skill (Braverman, 1974), production workflow control (Child, 1972), job satisfaction (Corbett et al., 1989), and leadership style (Kipnis, 1986). On the other hand, there is also ample research evidence to suggest that factory automation has no direct impact on any of these variables. Rather, the relationship is crucially mediated by managerial strategic choice (Child, 1972; Buchanan and Boddy, 1986), industrial relations (Hyman and Streeck, 1988), intra-organisational politics and custom-and-practice (Wilkinson, 1985), and other social factors.


Strategic Choice Scientific Rationality Industrial Culture Factory Automation Technological Determinism 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1996

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  • J. Martin Corbett

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