Designing work in production: Balancing top-down job design and bottom-up job crafting

Sammanfattning: With increasing global competition and technological progress, production companies face new demands to stay competitive and innovative. To achieve this, it's essential to better involve the production personnel. New ways of shaping production jobs are therefore necessary, so that individual employees have a chance to grow, develop, and challenge themselves to reach motivation and continuous learning. When development in production is rapid, operators need to be innovative and involved in finding new solutions. Job design has traditionally been viewed as a top-down activity, where employees have little influence and are merely expected to fulfil their designated tasks. A contrasting bottom-up activity is job crafting, where individuals reshape their work to better meet their individual needs. The strictness of the imposed job design can vary, through clear or vague job descriptions and differing levels of opportunities for job crafting. It is not obvious what the optimal balance is between the two to reach a sustainable work situation where individual needs are met while also upholding performance and meeting company goals. This thesis aims to explore the balancing between top-down job design and bottom-up job crafting in the context of operational jobs in production. In doing so, two papers are included. The first paper is an interview study on job crafting practices of front-line managers in production, while the second paper focuses on implementing a work design intervention for increased organizational learning in production teams. Findings suggest that front-line managers have vague job descriptions and role overload, leading to a work situation where both proactive and reactive job crafting practices are extensively used. In contrast, operators in production teams instead have very strict job descriptions with limited autonomy and learning opportunities, and little opportunity to shape and redesign their own work. Achieving simultaneous control and flexibility by finding a balance between top-down job design and bottom-up job crafting is a challenging task but holds the potential for combining increased performance and competitiveness for the organization with sustainable work conditions for the individual. An improved work design can aid in meeting increased demands for learning and motivation, leading to enhanced innovation and adaptability in the production industry.

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