2018/13 LEM Working Paper Series

Workers' intervention authority in Italian 4.0 factories: autonomy and discretion

Valeria Cirillo, Matteo Rinaldini, Jacopo Staccioli, and Maria Enrica Virgillito
Industry 4.0, Technological Paradigms, Organisational Change, Lean Systems, Autonomy, Discretion

  JEL Classifications
L23, L6, M54, O33

The present contribution aims at investigating the relationship between the introduction of Industry 4.0 technological innovations and the ensuing implications for workers' skills composition, their empowerment, and their authority of intervention in the work process, within three Italian firms exhibiting a wide range of organisational practices: from Japanese Toyotism, to a mix of Taylorism and co-determination, up to the example most akin to the German 'Mitbestimmung'. By distinguishing between the notions of discretion and autonomy in identifying the spheres of workers' intervention authority, our findings corroborate the presence of hybrid workforce empowerment, reflected into an increase of workers' discretionary intervention, and the lack of a similar increase in terms of autonomy, the latter meant as the possibility of establishing their own routines.
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