Labour Studies Index

Les nouvelles formes d’organisation du travail : Le rôle des perspectives contingente et institutionnelle

Document type Article
Author Chênevert, Denis
Author Dubé, Mireille
Journal Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations
Volume 63
Date 2008
ISSN 0034-379X, 1703-8138
Pages 134-159


Cette étude analyse le taux de pénétration des nouvelles formes d’organisation du travail (NFOT) ainsi que leurs déterminants. Pour ce faire, les perspectives contingente et institutionnelle ont été mises à profit afin de caractériser les facteurs explicatifs des NFOT dans 252 entreprises québécoises. Les résultats de cette étude sont concluants : la perspective contingente explique mieux la présence des NFOT lorsque le taux de pénétration de ces pratiques est élevé, alors que la perspective institutionnelle s’avère dominante lorsque ce taux est faible. Concrètement, les résultats suggèrent que la stratégie d’affaires, la gestion participative, le type de culture et la qualité totale, caractérisant la perspective contingente, sont les facteurs déterminants d’une pénétration élevée des NFOT, alors que le secteur d’activités, la concurrence à l’international et la structure de gouvernance, caractérisant la perspective institutionnelle, expliquent mieux la présence des NFOT lorsque celles-ci sont implantées superficiellement., This study deals with new forms of work organization (NFWO). Whereas, in the past, this subject has been approached by many authors from the perspective of the impact of innovative practices on business performance (Arthur, 1994; Handel and Gittleman, 2004; Handel and Levine, 2004), this study rather sets out to study the diffusion and the determinants linked to work organization. Consequently, we can ask the following question: what differentiates firms having implemented new forms of work organization (NFWO)? To answer this question, two perspectives will be used: the institutional perspective and the contingent perspective. On the one hand, according to the institutional perspective, businesses could be tempted to imitate competitors and/or to follow the enthusiasm which increasingly, many industries show for NFWO (Dirsmith, Fogarty and Gupta, 2000). They might equally be compelled to adopt NFWO due to surrounding coercive forces. According to this approach, the choice would thus be rather the result of sectoral imitation (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983) limited or encouraged by the different groups of actors in the business. On the other hand, according to the contingency theory, businesses should be bound to their internal structure as well as to their policies and human resource management practices on their business strategies and their internal strategies. The choice to adopt or to implement NFOW would stem, from this perspective, from a rational and strategic choice (Dunphy and Bryant, 1996). Thus, businesses opting for participative management and having initiated a quality management approach would be more inclined to adopt new forms of work organization oriented towards autonomy and, conversely, those having adopted autocratic management and mass production without concern for quality would be less attracted by these practices (Dean and Bowen, 1994; Handel and Levine, 2004). The results of this study show that 27% of establishments surveyed chose to implement NFOW substantially, which is comparable to the results obtained by Osterman (1994a, 2000). Also, although we did not test for the presence of complete practice systems, it appears that few businesses chose to thoroughly implement several practices linked to work organization. To this end, we observe that autonomous work teams are less implemented than are the other selected practices. Our results suggest that the contingent perspective and mainly internal strategies better account for the presence of NFOW than does the institutional perspective. Concretely, we found that the presence of a leadership strategy by costs, of participative management, of a quality management approach, and a market culture based on performance are all linked to the presence of NFOW when the degree of penetration for these practices is considered. However, on the institutional perspective side, the sector to which the business belongs, the competitive pressure to which businesses are exposed, the governing mechanism and their level of growth are linked to the presence of NFOW only when these are superficially implemented. In conclusion, certain businesses implement NFOW in a way so as to be coherent with their strategies and values, while others seem rather to follow the style of the day, without achieving true change as concerns their work organization method., Este estudio analiza la tasa de penetración de las nuevas formas de organización del trabajo (NFOT) así que sus determinantes. Para ello hemos utilizado las perspectivas contingente e institucional para caracterizar los factores explicativos de las NFOT en 252 empresas quebequenses. Los resultados de este estudio son concluyentes: la perspectiva contingente explica mejor la presencia de NFOT cuando la tasa de penetración de dichas prácticas es elevada, mientras que la perspectiva institucional se revela dominante cuando esa tasa es baja. Concretamente, los resultados sugieren que la estrategia empresarial, la gestión participativa, el tipo de cultura y la calidad total, que caracterizan la perspectiva contingente, son los factores determinantes de una penetración elevada de NFOT, mientras que el sector de actividad, la concurrencia en el campo internacional y la estructura de gobernanza, que caracterizan la perspectiva institucional, explican mejor la presencia de NFOT cuando estas son implantas superficialmente.