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Changing the 'line of sight' on payment systems: A study of shop-floor workers and managers within the British chemical industry

Bell, Emma (1999). Changing the 'line of sight' on payment systems: A study of shop-floor workers and managers within the British chemical industry. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 10(5) pp. 924–940.

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This paper examines the culturally expressed viewpoints of shop-floor workers and their managers in two multinational chemical companies in terms of the way that they make sense of their organizations’ payment systems. Using interview data from ethnographic study in two production sites, contrasts are made between the discourse of managers, characterized by developmental humanism, and that of the shopfloor workers, who retain attachment to economistic principles regarding their employment. The paper suggests that the introduction of all-salaried systems and annualized hours removes traditional ‘line of sight’ between hourly pay for physical effort. Performance-pay schemes, on a group and individual level, have met with worker resistance in a way which suggests a lack of shared basic values. Managerial responses to pay conflict differ according to business context, suggesting that employee development gives way to a ‘managing of the headcount’ as chemical industry companies deal with environmental and market pressures. Removal of short-term incentives on the shop-floor during the 1980s, without due attention to the reward mechanisms that might replace them, could leave a ‘black hole’ in terms of the work orientations of these blue-collar employees.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 1999 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
ISSN: 1466-4399
Keywords: compensation management; payment systems; effort-reward bargain; new industrial relations; human resource management; reward
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 48631
Depositing User: Emma Bell
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2017 12:51
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 10:48
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