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Perceived autonomy and discretion of mobile workers
Titolo Rivista: STUDI ORGANIZZATIVI  
Autori/Curatori: Roberto Albano, Ylenia Curzi, Tania Parisi, Lia Tirabeni 
Anno di pubblicazione:  2018 Fascicolo: Lingua: Inglese 
Numero pagine:  31 P. 31-61 Dimensione file:  247 KB
DOI:  10.3280/SO2018-002002
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In the beginning, remote working was enthusiastically presented as a means for transforming traditional ways of working thanks to the possibility of separating working activities from the physical constraints imposed by offices and factories. The assumption behind such enthusiasm - from both managers’ and employees’ perspectives - was that being physically at a distance from managerial control would increase workers’ autonomy (Sewell and Taskin, 2015; Lake, 2015). Nowadays scholars are debating whether remote working - or better, so-called smart working - can really open up new possibilities for workers to make autonomous decisions in the regulation of their work, or, on the contrary, it increases managers’ control over work processes, thus reducing the actual autonomy of workers (Brey, 1999; Vendramin and Valenduc, 2016). The present paper proposes to examine the question starting from the analytical distinction between autonomy and discretion (Maggi, 2003/2016). Particularly, based on a recently proposed theoretical framework (Albano et al., 2018), we consider these two concepts as dichotomous dimensions that can be combined in order to identify four types of "organization personality" (Barnard, 1938) - that is, four prevailing ways in which the individual can contribute to the organizational process: other-directed, discretionary, relatively autonomous, and mainly autonomous. Finally, we performed a factor analysis of some variables drawn from the sixth wave (2015) of the European Working Conditions Survey in a subsample of four industrialized countries (Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom) characterized by robust digitalization of industrial production, to measure the consistency of the four types of organization personality in two groups of respondents: mobile workers (a proxy group of smart workers) and other categories of workers (traditional). The results show that in our sample the perception of relative autonomy is more widespread among mobile workers than in other categories of workers. Smart working seems to be a way for achieving ‘dependable role performance’ (Katz and Kahn, 1966) in complex work processes without foregoing innovative and autonomous behaviours.

In origine, il lavoro da remoto è stato presentato entusiasticamente come mezzo per rivoluzionare modi tradizionali di lavorare grazie alla possibilità di separare le attività di lavoro dai vincoli fisici di uffici e fabbriche. Dietro tale entusiasmo, manifestato sia da manager che lavoratori, stava l’assunto per cui essere fisicamente distanti dal controllo manageriale avrebbe aumentato l’autonomia dei lavoratori (Sewell e Taskin, 2015; Lake, 2015). Oggi gli studiosi sono più critici rispetto alle possibilità del lavoro da remoto - o del cosiddetto smart working - di offrire davvero nuove possibilità ai lavoratori di prendere decisioni autonome nella regolazione del loro lavoro, e si interrogano se questa modalità di lavoro, invece, non induca un maggior controllo sul lavoro da parte dei manager, alla fine riducendo le reali possibilità di autonomia dei lavoratori (Brey, 1999; Vendramin e Valenduc, 2016). Questo articolo esamina il problema a partire dalla distinzione analitica fra autonomia e discrezionalità (Maggi, 2003/2016). In particolare, basandosi su una cornice teorica recentemente proposta (Albano et al., 2018), si considerano questi due concetti come dimensioni dicotomiche che possono essere combinate allo scopo di identificare quattro tipi di "personalità organizzativa" (Barnard, 1938) - e cioè quattro prevalenti modalità in cui l’individuo può contribuire al processo organizzativo: eterodiretta, discrezionale, relativamente autonoma, e prevalentemente autonoma. Infine, si è condotta un’analisi fattoriale di alcune variabili rilevate nella sesta wave (2015) della European Working Conditions Survey all’interno di un sotto campione di quattro Paesi industrializzati (Germania, Francia, Italia e Gran Bretagna) caratterizzati da una consistente digitalizzazione della produzione industriale, allo scopo di misurare la consistenza dei quattro tipi di personalità organizzativa in due gruppi di rispondenti: i lavoratori mobili (un gruppo proxy di smart workers) e le altre categorie di lavoratori (tradizionali). I risultati mostrano che, nel campione di riferimento, la percezione di autonomia relativa è più diffusa fra i lavoratori mobili che fra le altre categorie di lavoratori. Lo smart working si configurerebbe quindi come un modo per acquisire un ‘comportamento affidabile’ (Katz e Kahn, 1966) in processi di lavoro complessi senza la rinuncia a comportamenti innovativi e autonomi.
Keywords: Smart working, lavoratori mobili, personalità organizzativa, autonomia organizzativa, discrezionalità.

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Roberto Albano, Ylenia Curzi, Tania Parisi, Lia Tirabeni, in "STUDI ORGANIZZATIVI " 2/2018, pp. 31-61, DOI:10.3280/SO2018-002002

   

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