Chapter 1: Work Systems Diffusion: Neo-institutional Perspectives
1. Work systems diﬀusion: neo-institutional perspectives 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter provides a review of the concepts of work systems and work systems diﬀusion. Work systems are seen as embedded at two levels: in the form of, ﬁrst, institutional embeddedness at national level, and second, embeddedness of tacit work systems at organizational level. The chapter provides a working deﬁnition of the diﬀusion of work systems at organizational level with reference to the view of work systems as knowledge-driven. This is supplemented by a review of comparative research approaches to work systems diﬀusion. These are speciﬁcally perspectives in the ‘Japanization’, innovation processes and neo-institutional literatures. The four major perspectives on work systems diﬀusion are reviewed in an attempt to situate the conceptual framework within an appropriate theoretical perspective. On the basis of this review, the neo-institutional arguments on the diﬀusion of work systems are identiﬁed as providing the most appropriate conceptual foundation for the construction of an analytic framework. Two diﬀerent perspectives within the neo-institutional literature (the rational choice and historical neo-institutional perspectives) are highlighted. The neo-institutional framework is further developed by strengthening it with concepts from the innovation processes literature. An analytic framework is constructed to oﬀer a set of concepts that can provide answers to the following two questions. First, what are the key attributes of work systems? Second, what characteristics at the local institutional and organizational levels are likely to have an impact on the diﬀusion of...
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