The importance of organizational characteristics for psychosocial working conditions and health

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Print & Media

Sammanfattning: The importance of organizations for understanding differences in the working conditions and health of employees is often emphasized but rarely explored empirically. The general aim of this thesis is to describe organizational characteristics of workplaces, and to assess their impact on the psychosocial working conditions and health of employees. In modern working life, it is assumed that employees' working conditions and health are affected by a general transformation of workplaces from bureaucracy to post-bureaucracy. The organizational data used are based on structured interviews with managers at workplaces in different types of operations in mid-Sweden, whereas the individual data consist of a questionnaire to all employees working in the participating workplaces, resulting in a dataset of 90 workplaces and 4306 individuals. Descriptive analysis was carried out for comparison of organizational characteristics in different types of operations, while multilevel analysis was applied to investigate the magnitude of the organizational impact on psychosocial working conditions, and to analyze associations between organizational characteristics, psychosocial working conditions and health.The results showed that the workplaces were mainly displayed by a combination of bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic characteristics, and these were unequally distributed between types of operations. A systematic variation in the psychosocial working conditions and health of employees was found between workplaces, and the variation in psychosocial working conditions was attributed to several organizational levels. The variation between workplaces was explained by both organizational characteristics of the workplaces and individual characteristics of the employees. Formalization, centralization, job enrichment, individual responsibility, soft control systems, and performance control were associated with psychosocial working conditions when controlled for occupational class, gender and age of employees, and a high degree of customer adaptation was associated with increased sickness absence of employees.  It is concluded that bureaucracy and post-bureaucracy should not be regarded as dichotomies. Organizational characteristics of workplaces have an impact on the psychosocial working conditions and health of employees beyond occupational class. This has implications for both the theory and the practice of occupational health research. 

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