Chapter 1

Work Organization and Occupational Health in Contemporary Capitalism

Ana Valéria C. Dias and Francisco de P. A. Lima


This chapter discusses recent changes in work organization and their impacts on occupational health and safety. In the last decades of the 20<sup>th</sup> century, changes in the technological, social and economic context, such as automation of production processes, globalization of markets, financialization and new social demands fostered the emergence of new rationales for production and as a consequence new rationales of work organization. Some of the main aspects of New Forms of Work Organization (NFWO) are presented: flexibility, autonomy, the importance of workers’ competence and engagement and management by goals, represented by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). We then propose that within NFWO there may be some paradoxes that workers are obliged to deal with. Beyond NFWO, some new configurations of firms, notably those based on network features, are also presented, and their relation with NFWO is discussed. In this new context organization, there are new work pathologies, namely the psychological ones, ordinarily named “stress”. Final discussion points to the fact that the absence of prescribed tasks created new constraints that are behind the bullying at work. The actual augmentation of psychological suffering and mental diseases is the consequence of the performance control through KPIs that are present in management systems diffused in the corporate governance of global organizations and networks.

Total Pages: 3-31 (29)

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