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Title: Autonomy at work
Contributor(s): James, Paul Bradford (author); D'Agustino, Fred (supervisor); Lynch, Anthony  (supervisor)orcid ; Walsh, Adrian  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2007
Copyright Date: 2003
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: There is a considerable body of writing about work. A major theme of this writing is personal dissatisfaction, as exemplified by the term working class blues. As Studs Terkel in his book Working argues, work is one, if not the major, cause of economic unfreedom, physical debasement, personal alienation, and social ennui. He writes: 'Work is, by its very nature, about violence to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents. It is above all (or beneath all) about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of workers.' Terkel is not alone in this view. In well over one hundred studies in the last twenty-five years, workers have regularly depicted their jobs as physically exhausting, boring, psychologically diminishing, or personally humiliating and unimportant. Given that the bulk of the adult population spends more than a third of its waking hours at work, it may be concluded that work has a significant impact on persons. Yet, since Karl Marx, there has been scant or almost no philosophical investigation of work. This thesis arose from the desire to improve our understanding of the impact of work on persons. Thesis objectives - In this thesis, I develop a philosophical account of autonomy that I apply to three major management theories and assess their support for autonomy. These are: • Frederick Taylor's, scientific management: • Peter Drucker's management by objectives (MBO); and • Herbert Simon's management decision-making. These theories were selected as representative of major approaches to the management of work. Each of these theories had a major impact on work practices and was widely reported in management literature. Having autonomy, as will be shown, demands a lot from us and our environment. Autonomy therefore provides a powerful lens to reveal the features and consequences of the selected management practices on persons. In addition, autonomy is of value in itself, and the degree to which management practices support autonomy can also be considered important.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Rights Statement: Copyright 2003 - Paul Bradford James
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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