A Sociotechnical Approach to Evaluating the Effects of Managerial Time Allotment on Department Performance
Current organizational design changes such as restructuring, production advancements, and information technology improvements have caused many organizations to move to flatter management structures. Changes in the organizational structure along with the demand for improved performance have broadened the scope of responsibilities for first-level managers in manufacturing organizations. First-level managers are required to balance their time to meet greater demands.
The sociotechnical systems principle of joint optimization states that organizations function optimally when design changes are made to meet the needs of both the social and technical subsystems in the context of the organization's environment. This study uses time allotment at the supervisory level to operationalize the sociotechnical systems principle of joint optimization.
Ninety-one first-level managers from both the production and distribution areas of thirteen North American facilities participated in this study. Four survey instruments were used to measure the following dimensions: joint optimization, department performance, time allotment to the social and technical subsystems, and organizational values of appropriate time use.
Five time allotment constructs emerged from the data collected on time use in the social and technical subsystems. These were time spent on Participation and Information Sharing, Customer Needs and Strategic Planning, Skill Development and Compensation, Quality, and Department Operational Needs. The results indicated time allotment constructs along with the organization's values on appropriate time use can be used to predict both joint optimization and performance at the department level. The results also indicated a strong relationship (r = .607, p < .05) between level of joint optimization and department performance.