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Organization of work

Organization of work

The organization of work in corporations and administrative organizations has been going through changes in the last few decades. There has been a decrease in standardised work processes with a high level of division of labor and little freedom for individuals to make decisions. The post-industrial service and knowledge society is increasingly establishing a different manner of working. Hierarchies are becoming flatter, ranges of duties are getting broader and individual responsibility is growing, but individual risks are increasing as well. In the context of this reorganization of work, the organization as a whole is supposed to gain in efficiency and open up new strategic potentials. Functions are decentralized into small, partially autonomous organizational units, and some are outsourced, and working hours are being made more flexible.

New forms for organizing work:
  • more flexible work models including by creating time buffers
  • changing jobs by means of multiple qualifications
  • Job Enlargement – extending the range of duties
  • Job Enrichment – extending the range of duties by adding planning, guidance and controlling
  • partially autonomous group work
(Source: Hilf/Jacobsen 2004)

The new forms of work offer those involved greater possibilities for personal development and more influence on their immediate work process. But these changes have not always had positive effects. Decentralized organizations place high demands on the self-organization of their staff. If reorganization and increasing subjectivization of work is accompanied by downsizing or if there are no training measures, this may result in too much strain being put on staff (e.g. in the form of intensification of work).

Organization of work oriented to tasks and participation:
  • structuring of routine clerical work in the form of group work
  • looking at individual cases as a whole (all-round clerical work)
  • cross-function (cross-department) teamwork for tasks which require various specialist skills
  • integration of assistants and clerical work into teamwork
(Source: Hilf/Jacobsen 2004)

These changes are not free of consequences for the gender-related division of labor. Most organizations have a clear gender hierarchy in which women and men are assigned to different areas of work. Thus statistical discrimination against women can be proved. In hierarchical organizations, women are more frequently assigned to subordinate areas such as routine clerical work. Statistical discrimination here means that persons are assumed to have certain characteristics solely because they belong to a certain group.

In the course of decentralization, some of these areas cease to exist, but some get a more extensive task profile. But this upgrade does not automatically mean that statistical discrimination is reduced, as the continuing small number of women in management positions shows. Certain guiding principles established in an organization that are supposed to be gender neutral contribute to inequality in the treatment of the sexes. For example, permanent availability and the associated long hours are valued more highly than the intensity of work and thus performance. So the career development of staff who do not conform to the long hours norm is often hindered. This affects mostly part-timers and women. The performance of women is per se assumed to be lower because of family responsibilities. This unequal treatment based on stereotype is also problematical from a business management point of view, because part of the workforce is permanently being demotivated.

Organisation of work oriented to gender equality, on the other hand, attempts to avoid discrimination in any form and to establish a corporate culture that is oriented to gender equality and applies to all staff. The basis for this is provided by a gender-sensitive analysis of the problem areas and the areas for reorganization so that the typical “areas where women work” are taken into account in the process of reorganization and gender equality goals can be defined. Unequal division of labor between the sexes cannot be changed just by providing greater freedom of movement in making decisions and with individual and collective self-regulation. Only a targeted orientation of the process of reorganisation to gender equality will create the necessary conditions for this. In this way, gender-typical areas of work for women will be upgraded and new potentials previously closed to them will be opened up for staff, mostly women, in their career development, who have not hitherto conformed to the norm.

The gender equality-oriented use of forms of work that are heavily geared to group concepts therefore depends of the discrimination-free participation of all potential existing in an organization or team. Furthermore, participants must be prepared for this by means of targeted training and formal possibilities for cooperation must be created. When steering groups or project groups, which are frequently formed in the course of reorganization processes, are being put together, special attention should be paid to seeing that all the various groups are taken into consideration, including those that have previously been under-represented. Success depends not least on the conduct of the management level. Gender equality must be communicated from the top as a central objective in the reorganization process, as can also be seen in the Managing Diversity approach. If management is committed to gender equality goals, then there is a better chance that gender stereotypes will be lastingly overcome in the new forms of work and the new forms of organization can unfold their positive influence.

One possibility is to establish Gender Mainstreaming as an innovation strategy in staff development and organizational development and likewise to restructure central elements in staff development such as selection, training, performance evaluation and staff management/leadership in the course of putting this into practice. Otherwise, there is a risk that some of the areas of work in an organization may be generally excluded from the process of change and the associated staff development measures or that gender stereotypes are reproduced in the new structure as well almost as a kind of natural growth. The use of Gender Mainstreaming is therefore not only in abolishing inequalities but also in greater acceptance of the new organization of work by all staff and in the associated improvement in efficiency and service-orientation.
erstellt von Administrator zuletzt verändert: 02.01.2010 20:07