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Brooks, T and Spillane, J (2016) Does Inappropriate Quality Control Demotivate Workers? A Critical Review. In: Chan, P W and Neilson, C J (Eds.), Proceedings 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference, 5-7 September 2016, Manchester UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 823–832.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: motivation, quality control, Human Resources Management
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9955463-0-1
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/8ff8292fe02ba01e5d660ab5e0ea2a45.pdf
  • Abstract:

    Since Taylor introduced Scientific Management in 1911, the boundary between control and exploitation of workers has been a subject of debate. The construction Industry requires quality control and regulation of its contingent, unpredictable environment. However, taking too much control from workers can disempower and demotivate.  Deci and Ryan in the 1970s developed Self-determination theory which states that in order to be intrinsically motivated, three components are necessary – competence, autonomy and relatedness. Criticism, competition and threats, such as those generated by poorly conducted Quality Control, can create a perceived external locus of causality, undermining intrinsic motivation.

    The relationship between quality control and motivation has been examined in healthcare, education, sports and management fields but little investigation has been undertaken in the construction industry. This study aims to examine the way in which the three ‘nutriments’ for intrinsic motivation may be undermined by heavy-handed quality control.  An extensive critical literature review analyses construction, psychological and management research regarding the control and motivation of workers, using self-determination theory and the concepts of competence, autonomy and relatedness as a framework.

    Although contemporary control of workers is neither as pervasive or severe as that advocated by Taylor, it can undermine workers’ motivation in subtler ways. Initial findings show that quality management systems do not always work as designed. Control of workers and pressure for continual improvement may lead to resistance and deception.  Workers perceive that unnecessary, wasteful and tedious counter checking of their work implies that they are not fully trusted by management to work without oversight. Controlling mechanisms can break the link between performance and satisfaction, reducing motivation and paradoxically reducing the likelihood of the quality they intend to promote. This study will lead to a greater understanding of control and motivation, enabling improvements in the application of quality control to maintain employee motivation.