Sociology of Work Term Paper

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Sociology of Work

It has become a generally acknowledged fact nowadays that a new global economy is coming into view. This innovative international economy is distinguished "by the transnational flow of capital, goods, services and labor; by greater national specialization and increased competition across borders; and by the use of new technologies" (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006). Moreover, it has completely disturbed the long-established ways of business responsibilities and operations.

The United States of America has aimed a position for itself at the zenith of the world market in order to seek a competitive advantage. This paper discusses the changes in the American workplace, the practices and policies that are required by the United States to ensure the continuation of being the world's leading economic power. It also discusses how the contemporary adaptations in the American workplace have affected the employees and their families.

Changes in the American Workplace

The American corporations have been transformed by the surfacing of a global economy. This transformational emergence, thus, forced a lot of them to reformulate themselves for meeting the escalating contest from abroad. Therefore, it has become a regular practice of great American businesses to improve their performance on a constant basis. They have also become accustomed of reinventing and changing their products and strategies in a swift manner. In countless cases, the United States companies have launched their operations more or less everywhere in the world (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

The vital changes that are taking place in the American workplace presently are downsizing (as a stable aspect of the business economy), job reengineering (for the enhancement of the performance of work whilst cutting its costs) and teaming (for the elimination of layers of supervision and conservation of the originality and skill synergies of a supportive labor force) (Greenberg & Grunberg).

1. Ownership

Several decades ago, the principal ownership of the corporations was in the hands of individual shareholders. The scenario today is different as the financial institutions are the leading stockholders. This change in the American workplace has led to a theory of corporate capitalism. Wall Street's pointed stress on short-term performance can be said to be the most powerful consequence of this change (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

The implementation of this change has, thus, transformed the fiscal principles in the country's large businesses. Therefore, the job of privately-run businesses to create shareholder wealth currently has taken superiority over their assignments to other stakeholders; to their human resources specifically (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

2. Global Competitor Organizations

The ideal demonstration of the mentioned new worldwide financial order is the materialization of the Global Competitor organization. It is, in fact, the business model that has been fabricated to transform the conventional business model. This innovative approach towards the reformation and management of the organizations has brought huge outcomes for the hired employees. In creating GC organizations, the management in today's businesses is therefore, reconstituting the American workplace to create Global Competitor Organizations. The employees have been observed to work longer and harder as a consequence of this change in the American workplace. In addition to this, expectations regarding their performance have become greater than before (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

3. The Nature of Organizations

The available data and facts substantiates that the national productivity has considerably increased due to the amalgamation of the three peripheral forces of revolution in the American workplace. These three forces of transformation are globalization, technology and the focus on performance. According to the calculations provided by the economists, "U.S. productivity increased 72% between 1973 and 2003" (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006). However, the achievement of this growth was not constant. On the contrary, the current increase of growth rate is the shared impact of IT and a number of other managerial changes. In the manufacturing sector of the country, the human resource has been replaced by machines. Also, the businesses have stopped offering lower-paid jobs. Instead, they are seeking for higher-skilled and competent individuals who are offered higher-paid jobs. In addition to this, the businesses have expanded as the number of recruits on the payrolls has minimized (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

4. Employee Involvement

When the employees are given authority over their work by the manger, a good manager then always reward them for a commendable performance. These managers concentrate on the indispensable human needs for appreciation, power and belonging by doing so. The truth is that the morale, confidence and performance of the workers are not determined by the physical constituents of the workplace but by the mentioned recognition. It is especially observable in companies where the employees work together and create social bonds which eventually results in success for all (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

Most of the manufacturing units in the United States assumed or tried out self-managing work teams during the 1980s and the 1990s. Some did so for cutting payroll costs and/or for job enrichment (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006). In a majority of cases, these efforts involving employees led to "increased employee motivation and to lower levels of turnover, absenteeism and stress-related illness" (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

5. Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is an approach to administration, management and supervision. It has its origins in Japanese industry where it surfaced during the 1950s. Later, it gained popularity in the Western World during the 1980s ("Total Quality Management"). TQM is a set of executive performing operations that is designed for the improvement of quality performance at all levels of a business. It is applied for both meeting and exceeding the requirements of the consumer. It also strongly focuses on the uninterrupted improvement of all business functions and activities. Thus, this system has its total emphasis on the incessant improvement of the processes of the company ("Total Quality Management").

The new American workplace shares operating information with its employees and also teaches them the statistical methods that are required for self-management concerning quality control. The changed American workplace has adopted the TQM system involving several practices to influence the nature of work (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

6. Reengineering and Off-shoring

The American workplace of the contemporary era has been involved in the reengineering movement since the 1990s. It mainly focuses on the reduction of costs by abolishing steps that are not required in work processes. Reengineering specifically helps in the elimination of unnecessary layers of administration. This practice of lessening of pointless layers of management has turned out to be acceptable in almost every organization at the moment (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

Similarly, the large corporations in the United States have been engaged in sending key operations offshore for taking advantage of lower wages that are rewarded to the employees in other countries. Many companies hire workers abroad to perform the tasks that the Americans are not willing to do themselves. A good number of large organizations also hire international human resource for making use of their special skills. Another reason of off-shoring is to have a way in to the local markets (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

Despite the consequences of why large businesses and corporations send work abroad, this practice has been observed to be an effectual one when it comes to the environment of work remaining in America. By amalgamating off-shoring and information technology, the new American workplace has experienced a deep effect on the nature of work and its employees. Most domestic jobs have been reshaped with the combination of total quality management (TQM), employee involvement, information technology and reengineering (O'Toole & Lawler III, 2006).

Impact of Workplace Adaptations on American Workers

Current modifications in the operations and processes of an organization might leave its employees anxious and disrupted as their life at work and home both are changed. Many people spend a good part of their lives at work. For most of them, workplace is a place where their several needs for social contact and support are met. Besides, the professional identities of individuals contribute a great deal to their sense of personal performance. Work also contributes in elevating one's confidence, personal well being, self-respect and social interests (Osborne & Wennerberg).

With a change in the work environment, there is a possibility of employees feeling confronted or vulnerable (Osborne & Wennerberg). While changing the workplace environment and practices, the biggest challenge any organization can be confronted with is the "failure to identify losses associated with change and to find a constructive way to deal with those losses" (Osborne & Wennerberg).

For decades, the American workers have watched the conditions at the workplace getting worse (Leberstein & Christman, 2012). However, the present day American workers are mostly satisfied with their jobs and the working environments and have adapted well to the changes in the workplace. They feel more independent in doing the tasks they are assigned. They have got more opportunities to learn while being at work. This is the reason why working on the job has turned out to be more meaningful for them (O'Toole &…

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