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The transformation of work: A critical examination of the new organizational paradigm

Ali Husain Mir, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation seeks to examine the claim that contemporary industrial societies are witnessing a fundamental transformation in the nature of work leading to the advent of a new organizational paradigm. This research contends that while the new paradigm does exhibit significant breaks from the ways of organizing in the past, the change is by no means all embracing. A critical examination of the new paradigm must therefore attempt to focus attention on not just the transformation but also the continuities that persist from the past. This dissertation project has three inter-related components. First, it constructs a historiography in an attempt to offer an explanation of the shift from the old to the new organizational paradigm. Drawing upon literatures from multiple disciplines, it scrutinizes the claim of the transformation of work and identifies the changes and the continuities across the paradigmatic divide. Second, it uses the empirical sites of two software consulting firms--one at Silicon Valley and one at New York City--in order to examine the transformation of work at a leading edge of change. Through participant observation at the research sites and interviews with managers, programmers and end-clients, it examines the ruptures from earlier forms of work in the context of the software industry paying particular attention to the nature of the changing technologies, the local and the international division of labor, and the changing contours of space and time that accompany the transformation of work. Third, it constructs and tests two sets of hypotheses. One attempts to explore the nature of various forms of work commitment demonstrated by the growing assembly of the contingent workers of the new paradigm while the other focuses on the division of labor and the fragmentation of work in the organizations of the present. Through these three stages, this dissertation attempts to contribute to a more complex understanding of the issues around the transformation of work and to subject the discourse of the new organizational paradigm to critical scrutiny.

Subject Area

Management|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Mir, Ali Husain, "The transformation of work: A critical examination of the new organizational paradigm" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9809370.