Lost narratives? From paternalism to team-working in a lock manufacturing firm

Anne Marie Greene, Peter Ackers, John Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses a process of workplace change at a manufacturing company. The firm had sought to radically change traditional working practices, organizational culture and labour-management relations. The article identifies a significant mismatch between management rationale for the changes and their subsequent behaviour, on the one hand, and workers' views, objectives and aspirations about their work lives, on the other. Explanations for this are grounded within the competing discourse of workers and managers. The article argues, in particular, that the relative failure of the change process derived largely from the unwillingness of management to recognize the way in which the workplace culture is embedded in a context of social and historical traditions. This analysis of 'paternalism' is situated within a discussion of the psychological contract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-237
Number of pages27
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Human resource management
  • Paternalism
  • Psychological contract
  • Team-working

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