Le rôle du contremaître
Volume : 33-3 (1978)
The Foreman’s Role
This is a study of the foreman's role as a determinant factor of work organization and workers' job satisfaction. The foreman's role is defined in terms of social exchange according to two axes : autonomy (his own and his subordinates as perceived by them) and authority (hierarchical authority measured by hisloyalty to Administration, and functional authority measured by his technical competence as perceived by his subordinates). The job task of the workers is defined in terms of rhythm of work as against « task level », a variable composed of three dimensions of work: autonomy, variety and responsibility. Firstly, we specially study the relationship existing between the foreman's role and rhythm of work of the workers in order to ascertain which of these is the independent variable. Secondly, we study the workers job satisfaction according to the order of importance of these two variables.
Regarding the first point, we discover no relationship between the foreman's role and the task level variable. This is surprising since the variable, workers' autonomy is included in the task level variable. This forces us to conclude that the concept of task level is blurred. But, we observe that each one of the four aspects of the foreman's role is related to the rhythm of work. This does not mean that this variable is the independent one because we have to explain the situation where the foreman is without autonomy and authority, is loyal to the Administration and is incompetent (as these four aspects are significantly interrelated). In such a case, the foreman's role is limited to applying discipline, with no functional relationship to the work itself. This confirms the absence of relationship between the foreman's role and the task level. Thus, we can accept the foreman's role to be the independent variable, this being supported by certain findings existing in the related literature.
Regarding the second point, we discover that the foreman's role explains better the workers' job satisfaction than rhythm of work.
We conclude this analysis in saying that to understand the relationship between the worker and his job, we have to take into account both the temporal dimension of work (rhythm of work) and the socio-temporal dimension (authority). More precisely, it is the dichotomy between these two dimensions that characterizes the situation of the worker with regard to his work, that; is social alienation.