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Motivation and the standardization of work: Industry revisited or a victory to professionalism?

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Publication Date
Keywords
  • Formalization
  • Standardization
  • Motivation
  • Profession
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Taylor
  • Business And Economics

Abstract

The standardization of work processes has become an increasingly common feature in the public administration, aiming at both efficiency and equal treatment of citizens. Combining this standardization with employee motivation is considered a challenge. This challenge is explored, based on a survey among officials at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Results reveal that, contrary to expectations, 73 per cent of officials perceive the standardized protocols as supportive, rather than burdening. Findings indicate that standardization can function enabling, rather than coercive. Open responses are used to identify six factors that contribute to these attitudes. These factors indicate that the standardization of work actually increased professional status, by providing with legitimacy and authority, as well as a shared knowledge base. However, officials requested better opportunities to influence the continuous development of protocols. While this remained a hinder, they chose not to comply with protocols when these were considered unrealistic. Six propositions for future research are developed.

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