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Working Conditions and Effects of ISO 9000 in Six Furniture-Making Companies - Implementation and Processes
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
1998 (English)In: Applied Ergonomics, ISSN 0003-6870, Vol. 29, no 4, p. 225-232Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

What effects will the implementation of the quality standard ISO 9000 have regarding working conditions and competitive advantages? Which are the most important change process characteristics for assuring improved working conditions and other desired effects? These are the main questions behind this study of six furniture-making companies which implemented ISO 9000 during the period 1991-1994. The results show that customer requirement was the dominant goal to implement ISO 9000. Five of the six companies succeeded in gaining certification. The influence on working conditions was limited, but included better order and housekeeping, more positive attitudes towards discussing quality shortcomings, a few workplace improvements, work enrichment caused by additional tasks within the quality system and a better understanding of external customer demands. Among the negative effects were new, apparently meaningless, tasks for individual workers as well as more stress and more physically strenuous work. The effects on the companies included a decrease in external quality-related costs and improved delivery precision. The study confirms the importance for efficient change of the design of the change process, and identifies ‘improvement methodology’ as the most important process characteristic. Improved working conditions are enhanced by added relevant strategic goals and by a participative implementation process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1998. Vol. 29, no 4, p. 225-232
Keywords [en]
quality standard, change process, ergonomics, ISO 9000, furniture industry
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14671DOI: 10.1016/S0003-6870(97)00061-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-14671DiVA, id: diva2:24213
Available from: 2007-10-01 Created: 2007-10-01 Last updated: 2022-04-13
In thesis
1. On Stage: Acting for development of businesses and ergonomics in woodworking SMEs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On Stage: Acting for development of businesses and ergonomics in woodworking SMEs
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis reports findings and results from studies of development work and change processes in the secondary woodworking industry. The purpose with the research is to increase the knowledge on how companies can initiate change and to increase their ability to change. The dual aim of improving both business and working conditions served as a guiding condition for the research. Case studies and action research were performed in small companies, mainly with less than 100 employees and in some cases less than 20 employees.

The thesis encompasses six papers addressing different topics within the framework of development work and change processes. Topics elaborated are how performance concerning the ergonomic situation in a company can be measured and how the content and process of ISO 9000 implementation as well as standardisation influence system performance and working conditions. Furthermore, a framework for how change is enacted in SMEs and its effects on ergonomic considerations is suggested. A methodology for initiating change efforts in complex and ambiguous problem situations is presented. Finally the different expert and participant roles in an organisational change effort are elaborated and analysed with reference to experiences from previous case studies and theory.

Together, the papers and the thesis emphasize the importance of action and work activities as a base for change. It is in the conflicting work activities or work conduct of differing perspectives where many of the drivers of change can be found. I also argue that this is a main reason to give good working conditions utmost importance for organisation performance. Further, I conclude that the six papers together contribute to a theoretical basis for developing small firms and attractive workplaces. It is indicated that the results are relevant to small manufacturing firms, while neither organisational structure nor resources available are the same as in larger companies. Moreover, the organisational size has a number of implications on aspects like visibility, available theoretical knowledge, vulnerability, formalisation, institutionalised organisational inertia etc. that will alter the demands on the change process. Many of the results are not limited to woodworking industry; the technical content of the ergonomics problems will however be different in other firms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för ekonomisk och industriell utveckling, 2007. p. 140
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1123
Keywords
organisational change, ergonomics, woodworking, SME
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-9894 (URN)978-91-85831-18-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-10-05, C3, Hus C, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-10-01 Created: 2007-10-01 Last updated: 2020-03-24
2. Quality and Ergonomics: towards successful integration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Quality and Ergonomics: towards successful integration
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The understanding and practice of ergonomics, built on the knowledge of human characteristics, abilities and needs, plays a fundamental role in satisfying people - whether they are labelled customers, users or workers. In this context ergonomics and quality can be regarded as overall approaches, as philosophies taking account of people in the way things are designed and organised. Given the conceptual similarities and that several indicators point to the fact that poor ergonomics may cause quality deficiencies, there has in resent years been an increased focus on the potential benefits of an integrative approach.

The research presented in this thesis aims to support this process by developing a broader understanding of relationships in-between ergonomics and quality issues and to generate knowledge on how to effectively integrate quality and ergonomics development. The research project covers data and experiences from twenty-four case studies. A clearly marked interdisciplinary and triangulated research strategy with empirical data, qualitative as well as quantitative, from observations, interviews, surveys, and descriptive statistics, forms the basis of new knowledge, theories and methodology.

The results show that there is a strong relationship between a number of ergonomics related issues and quality performance. Deficiencies in information handling, management, work task and workplace design and motivation are important causes of poor quality. It is shown that quality deficiency rates increases substantially for adverse work postures compared to good postures, and that ergonomics improvements can reduce quality deficiencies with 30-50%. Further studies show that a feasible and often necessary strategy in creating lasting improvements is to integrate the perspectives of employers, employees and customers - i.e. efficiency, work conditions and quality. To achieve this a number of participatory techniques and support systems have been developed, studied, empirical tested and evaluated.

It is shown that a kaizen based suggestion system focusing on participatory ergonomics promotes motivation, commitment and high performance - quality as well as productivity. Nearly six out of ten suggestions deal with ergonomics issues and one out of five involves both ergonomics and quality improvement proposals. Furthermore an integrated participatory problem-solving approach, using both quality as well as ergonomics methodology and tools has been developed and empirically evaluated. It is shown that ergonomic tools are well suited in the quality improvement process, and that participatory ergonomics not only can be used as an effective tool eliminating ergonomic problems but also to progressively improve learning, working conditions and performance, thus stimulating a positive development of quality.

The thesis also presents a balanced strategic management concept with the potential to integrate ergonomic issues at all levels. An integrated macro-ergonomic management concept is believed to have a great impact on improving people's job satisfaction, performance and quality of working life, thus helping to create the environment in which total quality management and quality improvement will flourish.

It can finally be concluded that quality work is not just concerned with developing products and processes but equally with giving the people involved in these processes a chance to develop and to perform a good job. Designing a work system in accordance with ergonomic principles can thus be seen as a quality issue in which the internal customers' (employees') requests of ergonomics are given a high priority.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University, 2000. p. 362
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 616
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-184331 (URN)9172196521 (ISBN)
Public defence
2000-04-28, Kvalitetstekniks seminarierum, Hus A, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15
Opponent
Note

All or some of the partial works included in the dissertation are not registered in DIVA and therefore not linked in this post.

Available from: 2022-04-13 Created: 2022-04-13 Last updated: 2022-04-13Bibliographically approved

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Karltun, JohanEklund, Jörgen

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