تجزیه و تحلیل مقایسه ای موردی پیکربندی از آسیب های ارگونومیک
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Research, Volume 60, Issue 5, May 2007, Pages 522–530
This article presents a specific research-design – systematic comparative case analysis – to analyse the impact of organizational characteristics on the occurrence of ergonomic injuries. A systematic comparative case analysis consists of an across case analysis and a within case analysis of a limited set of comparable cases. Across case analysis or qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) aims to identify similarities and differences between configurations of explanatory variables. Within case analysis aims to identify the causal mechanisms which link configurations to outcomes. Systematic comparative case analysis is applied to a research question on the organizational antecedents of repetitive strain injuries of the wrist in highly repetitive, non-fragmented and simple jobs in the assembling, sorting and packaging industry.
Many people suffer from ergonomic problems such as repetitive strain injuries (RSI's). Much progress is made in understanding the causes of these problems. Initially, the emphasis in research was on exploring the importance of biomechanical, personal and psychosocial factors (Malchaire, 2001, Malchaire et al., 1997, Malchaire et al., 2001a, Malchaire et al., 2001b, Malchiare and Piette, 2002, Stal et al., 1999, Stal et al., 2003 and Van der Beek and Frings-dresen, 1998). These factors, however, only explain part of the variance and the bulk of variance in research remains unexplained. As a result, researchers introduce a new set of ecological or organizational variables to explain additional variance with some success (De Jonghe, 1999, Elovainio et al., 2000, Söderfeldt, 1997 and Koslowsky, 1998). This set includes factors which relate to the organization of work. The inclusion of these variables resonates with many studies on the relationship between the organization of work and quality of work (Van Hootegem, 2000). How firms organize jobs influences the well-being at work. As a result, recent research into RSI aims to further explore the relationship between the organization of work and the occurrence of RSI by including organizational characteristics in existing models. However, the expansion of existing explanatory models with organizational characteristics has not yet led to comprehensive models explaining (individual level) outcomes. Moreover, there is only limited knowledge on how organizational characteristics generate health problems such as repetitive strain injuries. Hence, some key-challenges for research remain (see also Cooper et al., 2001). These challenges relate to issues concerning the measurement and impact assessment of organizational characteristics on the one hand and the practical implications of research-results on the other hand. The former relates to questions on how to best measure organizational characteristics and how to interpret the effect of organizational characteristics on ergonomic outcomes. The latter refers to issues of the usability of research-results to improve organizational design in order to minimize health problems and the challenge of designing research which comes up with effective solutions. The first part of the article sketches some of these key-challenges more in depth and presents a research-design – systematic comparative case analysis based on the work of Ragin, 1987 and Ragin, 2000 – which addresses these challenges. This research-design takes the researcher away from explaining individual-level outcomes to identifying organizational characteristics and mechanisms which lead to RSI. A key-aspect of the research-design is that it does not aim to generate a model which fits the data best, but identifies several models and mechanisms which explain a diverse set of comparable cases. This type of analysis can make a fruitful contribution to research on the relationship between organizational design and ergonomic pains. In the second part of the paper the research design is applied to a study of repetitive strain injuries of the wrist (RSIW) in assembly, sorting and packaging jobs. The final part presents a theoretical and methodological discussion of the results. The conclusion discusses the main benefits and drawbacks of the research-design.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Designing research is in essence making trade-offs (Gerring, 2001 and Brady and Collier, 2005). This paper argues that a systematic comparative analysis – consisting out of an across and within case analysis – can contribute to an understanding of how organizational characteristics generate RSIW. This research-design is applied to a study on the relationship between organization of work and RSIW and generates interesting and interpretable results. It should be noted that if organizational characteristics do not play a role the chances of generating interpretable results (configurations) are slim. Most often, ‘meaningless’ models result in many contradictory results, i.e. the fact that the same configurations would result in both the presence and the absence of the outcome. Besides identifying possible important variables and configurations the approach also allows for the identification of mechanisms (relations between variables) which produce an outcome. The latter is important to understand the causal processes in different types of cases. A clear limitation of this approach is the limited generalizability in terms of inferences towards a larger research population and the overall/relative weight of the variables vis-à-vis other variables in a more comprehensive explanatory model. In relation to the research population this approach provides a basis for establishing modest empirical generalizations concerning well-defined cases (limited external validity). Clearly, the conclusions only hold for a small subset of jobs. However, it should be noted that arguments in relation to external validity are grounded on the assumption that the discovery of a general theory is possible. The question to ask in relation to external validity is: will the study of how the organization of work influences RSI's yield much in way of robust generalisations? It is probably too early to answer this question and more research has to be done. However, this does not need to imply that researchers have to stay content with description. As Jon Elster (1992) argued, between theory and description there exists the intermediary category of a mechanism — an identifiable causal pattern that comes into play under certain conditions. In this study the importance of causal process observations for the identification of mechanisms is highlighted. In addition, a possible benefit of the limited generalizability is that the results of the research are more ‘useable’ in terms of ‘social engineering’. Since the approach is predominantly deterministic in nature it provides advice on which parameters can be changed to reduce strain injuries. In this sense, the research-design easily allows for follow-up experiments (in changing organization of work parameters) which in turn provide a test for the research-results.