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Teknisk och organisatorisk gestaltning: exemplet LKAB
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.
1986 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is concerned with showing how economic activity acquires its technical and organizational "Gestaltung". The term "Gestaltung" alludes to the classical understanding of the whole as being more than the sum of its parts; that is being both its constituent parts and their mutual relations. The thesis is composed of three forms of investigation: Theory, empiricism and analysis, each being presented in a separate section. In addition there is an appendix presenting figures with the formulas used in calculations. In the theoretical section the model I have chosen for analysing the technical and organizational "Gestaltung" is put forward. The model has three dimensions; one materially-deduced, which I call the work process, one economically-determined and one based on human agency. In the centre of my model are human beings, who through their ways of life, concrete actions and decisions to a greater or lesser extent shape patterns of eventuation. Human agents do not live in a technical, economic and social vacuum. In fact their possible actions are surrounded by many restrictions; these restrictions are dealt with through the use of the concepts work process and economic forces. In general I see economic forces as dictating the direction and speed of changes in the technical and organizational "Gestaltung", while the materially-deduced work process represents stability and is only unwillingly adapted to economic change. The object itself; the technical and organizational "Gestaltung", combined with my intention of capturing something of the dynamics and spirit of this process of creation necessitates a very complex model of analysis. This has led me to work with different levels of precision for the three dimensions of my model. In relation to the economic forces a theoretically-informed model is presented which consists of three system levels. The most operationalised level refers to strategical decision-making codified by something called "the strategic matrix". For the work process I am content with presenting a form of categorization which corresponds to my economic model. Based on this categorization different ways of describing the work process are discussed; ways which catch essential aspects of working conditions. Finally when it comes to the human agents I work with a distinctly open and searching methodological form. I do not attempt to formulate a theory of agency for the different actors. Instead we have what I term, "scenarios". In various "scenarios" I try to encapsulate the social context in which different actors have to operate. Against this background it becomes easier to understand the concrete actions of those concerned. The empirical section has for academic reasons been given an unusual form. While I attempt to describe the technical and organizational "Gestaltung" in a Swedish iron ore mine during the period 1950-84, I also dim to give something of an idea as to how the different actors shaped this historical process and experienced its concrete "Gestaltung". As conventional scientific methods are unable to fulfil this task I have gained inspiration from literary sources. I have chosen a form of description where I visit the mine in Kiruna on several occasions starting in 1950. The presentation is structured so that I am following a worker called Lennart Waara on a walk through the mine. Lennart does not exist as an individual in real life, but he is a synthesis of many workers' stories. My choice of method means that I can not give a total guarantee that the narrative is either correct or accurate in every detail, but I would maintain that in general terms it is a valid account. The major advantage of such an account is that it is much more concrete than conventional forms of empirical exposition. In the last section I confront my empirical findings with my theoretical categories; paying special attention to my conceptualization of economic forces. The result is a comprehensive review of different management strategies and concrete actions. Historically LKAB has had a unique competitive advantage with its proximity to the expansive European market and has therefore been able to maintain an extremely high level of profitability. In the 1950s the rate of profit was up to 50 %. The basic problem ever since has been international over-capacity of iron-ore production and a consequent fall in prices for ore-related products. A further problem has been an increase in the costs of production due to the transition from opencast to underground mining in Kiruna. Starting with its unique competitive advantage LKAB has been able to meet increasing competition with an expanding volume of production but over the years the rate of profit has tended to a more normal level. In 1975 market demand suddenly fell to an extremely low level and LKAB found itself in the middle of an economic crisis with mounting deficits. In this context I pose the question; could this crisis have been avoided or its effects moderated? Any straightforward answer remains allusive but I would maintain that it should have been possible to cushion the effects of crisis. I show that the ten year period preceding the crisis was characterized by increasing capital obsolescence and that the crisis coincided with an accumulated need for investment. I am also able to state that there had not been any significant rise in productivity since the major strike in 1969/70. LKAB has tried to diversify its way out of crisis without success. In 1983 profitable production was achieved again but at the price of a financial reconstruction costing around 3 billion Swedish Crowns and a reduction in employment of about 2 500. A fortunate pattern of product development has also contributed to a return to profitability. Finally, looking to the future I give a very unfavourable prognosis and advise the trade unions to begin seriously discussing alternative means of closure. Such a planning of closure could be carried out over a considerable time period while new forms of industrial activity were being built up.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 1986. , 366 p.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technologyy… → 31 dec 1996, ISSN 0348-8373 ; 52
Research subject
Industrial Work Environment
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-26753Local ID: fed8cd10-ba76-11db-b560-000ea68e967bISBN: 91-86998-08-0OAI: diva2:999923
Godkänd; 1986; 20070212 (ysko)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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