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Examining the ‘hard-boiled bunch’: work culture and industrial relations at the Linwood car plant, c. 1963-1981

Gilmour, Alison Julia (2010) Examining the ‘hard-boiled bunch’: work culture and industrial relations at the Linwood car plant, c. 1963-1981. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the nature of work culture and industrial relations at the Linwood car plant during the period 1963-1981. In Part One, Chapter One provides an overview of the historical debate over the use of oral testimony as well as introducing the methodology employed within the oral history project encompassed within the thesis. Chapter Two provides an analysis of the nature of work at the Linwood car plant and the ways in which this impacted on behaviour and attitudes in the workplace. This is further developed in Chapter Three where the focus is on organisational mischief, and consideration is given to the nature, consequences and explanations for this behaviour. The analysis developed in Part One, focuses on the dominant explanations for problematic industrial relations based on the notion of a ‘clash of work cultures’ due to an absence of intrinsic rewards in automated assembly-line work. Within the thesis such dominant narratives are not entirely supported by the Linwood sample, as a wide variety of attitudes towards work are exhibited, leading the thesis to question the validity of the categories of intrinsic and extrinsic reward. In Part Two of the thesis there is a shift in focus as the analysis concentrates on structures of authority at Linwood and the impact on industrial relations. Chapter Four gives consideration to the influence of historical contingency on management decision-making. Part of the 1976 government rescue package was a Planning Agreement incorporating employee participation in management decision-making that articulated with the Labour government’s manifesto commitment to industrial democracy. Yet throughout the different phases of ownership, interactions between management and workers at the Linwood plant explored in this thesis reveal a dichotomy between the rhetoric and reality of industrial democracy and worker participation. The final chapter of the thesis offers an exploration of shop floor industrial politics, and causes of strikes, to highlight the narratives of tension underpinning interactions at Linwood. The thesis provides a nuanced approach, highlighting variety of experience and importantly a complex interplay of interests shaping work culture and the nature of industrial relations in the car plant.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Industrial relations, work culture, labour relations, organisational misbehaviour, oral history, industrial politics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Phillips, Dr. Jim
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Dr Alison Julia Gilmour
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1830
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2010
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2013 14:29
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1830

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