Organizational change, cultural change? Insights for ergonomic interventions

Synthesis
By Adelaïde Nascimento

English

In order to carry out major organizational changes, business management frequently exploits the concept of culture in its functionalist and normative version. No strategy holds up without cultural change as underlined by Peter Drucker’s famous quotation: “Culture eats strategies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” The field of ergonomics has so far contributed significantly to question the conduct of organizational changes but has less discussed the concept of culture and in particular that of organizational culture in the conduct of such changes. Indeed, even if a large number of ergonomists agree on the linkages between activity and culture, the definition and status of the concept of culture from the point of view of Francophone ergonomics have received little formalization to date, despite a clear interest from related disciplines such as sociology or management.
The objective of this review is to propose theoretical references and background for what could constitute a critical positioning of the field of ergonomics on the specific cultural development issue when it shows up during interventions as a form of a “cultural change” thought up by managers, and as a result of a technocratic organizational change project. The contributions of the Russian historical-cultural theories of Vygotski-Leontiev-Luria and the culturally oriented psychology of Jerome Bruner and Michael Cole are proposed in this article as strong resources to guide ergonomic demands concerning cultural development at work.

Keywords

  • Organisational culture
  • managerialism
  • historical-cultural theories
  • ergonomics
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