Toleration and coping adaptation to work roles.

  • D. S. Biddle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is concerned with the ways in which people can achieve to what is to them, and may appear to others as, an unsatisfying or improved work situation. It is based on the comparative and longitudinal study of five worker groups in an engineering company located in the south of England, and a cross culture replication and comparison with two groups of car assembly workers in New Zealand. The mail and longitudinal British study was conducted within an action frame of reference so that the effects of various changes in organizational action on worker behavior could be explored. Three distinct manual groups were studied, each employing a different technology which range through from unit and small batch to large volume and process production. Two 'white collar' groups were also studied to give a comparison with the manual groups. These were selected on the basic of their technology and work organization with was highly structured. A wide range of variables was examined in order that the total situation of the group, their modes of coping with and influencing their situation and the interrelatedness of the variables influencing them could be explored. The approach taken was qualitative, supported in certain respects by qualitative evidence. The analysis is made, not in terms of motives, needs and attitudes, but in terms of psychological living space- the psychological territory which serves to mediate and protect and individual's inner world and sense of worth. Jobs themselves, and organizational action, define a permitted living space which may or may not be congruent with the individual's required living space. Adaptive actions, to adjust individual living space or to construct group living space, are exemplified, and are shown to affect people's relations with their jobs, peers, supervision, management and union. Links are also made with the psychology of change, play and creativity and the social psychology of neighborhood. The theory of worker behavior- Tolerance Theory- is developed and presented as a reductive and integrative models which is concerned with the degree of congruence that exist between permitted and requisite living space, adaptive mechanisms contrived and congruence is low and the locations of living space boundaries. Behavior is demonstrated to be predictable in terms of maintaining- or defending- the boundaries of living space.
Date of Award1976
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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