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The ethnographic contribution to understanding co-worker relations

by Randy Hodson
British Journal of Industrial Relations ()
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Relations among co-workers are becoming both more important and more complex in modern workplaces as authority over job decisions is shifted from supervisors to quasi-independent teams. The author develops a model of co-worker relations that recognizes these changes and evaluates this model using data content coded from the full population of published book-length workplace ethnographies (N = 204). Confirmatory factor analysis techniques support the existence of three distinct aspects of co-worker relations: cohesive- ness, conflict and peer supervision. The most important determinants of co-worker relations are employee involvement programmes and management behaviour. Returning to specific case studies allows a theoretical elaboration of how employee involvement and management behaviour condition co-worker relations. The author concludes by noting the importance of intellectual exchanges between qualitative and quantitative methods for generating new advances in the study of work and employment relations.

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