Changing manfuacturing practices: an appraisal of the processual approach

Patrick Mark Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a longstanding interest in human factors and the processes of change in manufacturing organizations. In this article attention is focused on the establishment and contribution of a processual perspective to understanding change. A history of the processual approach is outlined and some of the main defining elements and ongoing developments are appraised. Field data drawn from a study of cellular work arrangements at a mirror manufacturing plant are used to highlight the interlocking and overlapping dynamics between substance, context, and politics. In advocating the benefits of a processual perspective, it is argued that during the uptake of cellular manufacturing there is a mutual shaping between the "technical" and the "social" and in support of this claim, case study data are used to illustrate the complex and ongoing interaction between sociopolitical processes and the substance of change (in this case, the technical reconfiguration into cellular form). It is argued that attempts to distill, separate, identify, and examine discrete elements (such as technology) are misplaced and likely to produce misleading results that undervalue the importance of the contextual and sociopolitical processes that also play a key part as mutual shapers of change. (c) 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005




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