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Title:An Ethnographic Study of Employee Absences: The Impact of Uncertainty, Negotiation and the Employment Relationship
Author(s):Fitzgibbons, Dale Edward
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Business Administration, Management
Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Abstract:This investigation is an ethnographic study of employee absences in a coal-fired electric generation plant located in the mid-west. An anthropological perspective and methodology was employed for the purpose of "getting close" to the daily rhythms of organizational life in order to develop a new perspective on why employees do not attend. Data was collected through six months of participant observation, informal discussions and a semi-structured interview of a sample of employees. In addition, 38 types of absences covering the first 5 years of plant operation were collected from organizational records.
Conceptually, the study starts from a recognition of the importance of the employment relationship for understanding what goes on in organizations. It focuses on the uncertainty that is inherent in organizations and the negotiation that is therefore necessary for coordinating individual behavior. It views the act of absence as one byproduct of that negotiation process.
A "negotiated order" (Strauss, 1978) framework for understanding organizational behavior is presented that is anchored in the symbolic interactionist school of Blumer (1969) and others. This perspective recognizes individuals as active and self-conscious shapers of their social world who align their activities and act in concert with others in carrying out an organization's work. This alignment takes place in a particular context composed of various structural factors that organizational members draw on to make sense of their own and others behaviors.
The study concludes with a discussion of the usefulness of this approach for organizational practice. It also suggests how this framework and methodology can be used for understanding organizational behavior in general, and absence behavior in particular.
Issue Date:1988
Description:429 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8823126
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1988

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