T16 technol innnovation ee

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T16 technol innnovation ee

  1. 1. PUBLISHED in: Salavisa Lança, Isabel & Ana Cláudia Valente (Eds.), Tchnological Innovation and Employment: the Portuguese case. Lisbon: Dinâmia, 2006 (pp.101-124). TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION & EMPLOYMENT – SOCIAL AND ORGANISATIONAL IMPACTS OF TECHNOLOGY ELÍSIO ESTANQUE Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra Centro de Estudos Sociais – www.ces.uc.pt 1 – Introduction Inventive capacity and technological refinement have always beencornerstones of societies’ development. However, while the social transformationsthat followed the Industrial Revolution meant extraordinary progress for mankind,they also generated a whole gamut of perplexing issues for society to deal with,and continue to do so even today. During the last century, cinema and literatureproduced many works1 that reflected concerns associated with technologicalprogress in western societies. The so-called technological revolution has neverbeen regarded as an undisputed asset to humanity, and the innovators’ standpointis far from being uncontroversial. Indeed, although technical advances over thepast two hundred years have been awe-inspiring and have heralded liberation andwell-being, they have resulted in countless destructive side effects and new formsof oppression and social injustice. The XIX century began an era in which technologies drew western societies’attention towards the idea of labour and production, while, nowadays, the focus isincreasingly on consumption and market forces. Although it is in the world oflabour, rather than in the field of consumption, that people are more directly1 Such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Chaplin’s Modern Times, and Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave NewWorld.
  2. 2. Elísio Estanqueconfronted with technics, greater exposure to the latter tends to subordinate whathappens to the former. It was, largely, for this reason that, in spite of the knownalienating effects of technics on the worker – that Marx so astutely denounced –the Taylorist approach to production spread throughout the western world, makingthe worker a mere appendage to the machine. Over the past one hundred and fifty years, working class attitudes towardstechnologies have been ambiguous: while regarding them a source of potentialthreat to jobs, technological innovation has relieved workers from many arduoustasks and, until recently, served to consolidate the trade union movement. Thecorollary of this ambivalent perspective is that, in the latter half of the XX century,the forebodings of job shedding caused by the introduction of new technologies2were accompanied by idyllic visions of a happy world in which mechanisationwould replace most physical labour, and where space for creativity and leisurewould abound, shaping what Ivan Illich (1979) termed the right to usefulunemployment. Of course, both these scenarios were amply idealised within theframework of (opposing) ideologies, and, in time, disproved by historical evolution,since the effects of new technologies, because they fall within social logic itself,have always been eminently contradictory. The issue of technology and its implications for employment and social lifehas been a recurrent theme in economic and social theory, especially since thepost-war period. Textbooks on labour sociology back in the 1970s were alreadywarning of the dangers of “technological determinism”, and stressing the fact thatthe machine “is never a pure means or a pure end of social activity”, that is to say,technical invention is always a response to “a pre-existing need that it is better ableto satisfy than previous technics” (Naville & Rolle, 1973: 401). To understand thesocial impacts and implications of technological innovation it must be rememberedthat they touch on several spheres and levels of analysis, and thus lead us into adiversity of dimensions of the social landscape. Reference should first be made, therefore, to the socio-economic and cultural2 The Luddite movement in the XIX century, Portuguese workers’ struggles at the turn of the XIX century andearly XX century, and the trade union struggles during the post-war era until the 1970s spring to mind. 2
  3. 3. Elísio Estanqueconditions that either foster or hinder technological development, whether in theorganisational and business setting or in society at large. It is preferable to use thenotion of “implication”, mentioned above, rather than “impact”, if we are to avoidregarding technology as something arriving from outside, which is self-determining,and which then makes a certain impact on social life. Once appropriated ormarked by human presence and culturalised, technologies, just as all materialartefacts – goods, utensils, resources, technics or even natural elements – take onnew symbolism and significance. Their social effects also entail this kind ofdimension. The question of technology, i.e. the presence or absence of newtechnologies, is always intertwined with social implications, before, during and aftertheir practical application. This text seeks to look at such problems, and examine associations betweencurrent trends in technological innovation and more general social phenomena.While our main focus is, naturally, the Portuguese reality, we endeavour to place itin the global and European context. We try to link empirical information, gatheredfrom various existing studies on this topic, to sociological perspectives from otherapproaches and theoretical frameworks. We have divided the work into threeparts: the first begins by contextualising this reflection in the light of recenteconomic globalisation trends and their impacts on industry, and refers to someindustrial organisation models and proposals for the European context formulatedby different authors. The second outlines an assessment of the situation andconsiders the underlying reasons for the current state of the art. The results ofvarious studies are synthesised and empirical information is included on policiesand programmes designed to promote technological innovation in Portugal – fromscientific research to education policies, and the programmes and initiativesdevised to support business modernisation. The third and final part discusses thesocial effects of technological innovation, both at macro-social and organisationallevels. The productive sector and society are considered in terms of theirinterconnection in different spheres, in which there is a real or potential incidenceof new technologies. Finally, we attempt to draw some conclusions regardingbusiness and industry, and Portuguese society in general. 3
  4. 4. Elísio Estanque 2 – Globalisation, industrial recomposition and technologicalinnovation: brief contextualisation When embarking on the question of a given country’s or region’stechnological resources, account must be taken of the social and culturaldimensions that support it, domestically and internationally. First of all, thecountry/region’s position in relation to more general social transformation andeconomic development processes should be identified, in order to pinpoint anytrends in change, difficulties and barriers, potentialities and advantages. Secondly,it is essential not to lose sight of the multiple complex repercussions from currentor recent economic cycles, productive models, and institutional and politicalcontexts, national and international The recomposition of productive processes over the past few decades hasbeen intimately linked to the opening of borders and rapid globalisation of trade, inwhich the technological component unquestionably plays a major role3. It is in thiscontext that issues such as labour – namely industrial labour and the changescurrently affecting it –, the effects of technological innovation, new opportunitiesand inequalities, fragmentation trends, mobility, flexibilisation, etc. – all need to bediscussed. 2.1 – Globalisation and social inequalities From the outset, it should be said that the impacts of current global processesare far from promoting uniformisation and equal opportunities. Nowadays, just asin the past, the global economy is generating many inequalities, not only betweencore and peripheral countries, but also within each context, where contradictorydynamics are created, and inclusion and exclusion logics coexist side by side. Thegulf between development poles and disadvantaged run down areas is often moreshocking in countries that have enjoyed rapid economic growth. In such cases, the3 In the wake of the welfare state crisis, some authors in the 1980s predicted the “end of organised capitalism”followed by a new “disorganised capitalism” era, or shift from Fordist to post-Fordist accumulation regimes(Offe, 1985; Lash & Urry, 1987; Esping-Andersen, 1996). 4
  5. 5. Elísio Estanqueintroduction of new technologies has exacerbated, rather than reduced, socialsegmentation and inequalities. Technological innovation and computerisation are,unquestionably, powerful media that have provided new opportunities for achievingwell-being and empowerment. At the same time, however, they have contributedto increasing employment deregulation and precariousness, as has been observedsince the early 1980s in Europe (with the emergence of so-called disorganisedcapitalism). Indeed, the end of the Fordist salary relationship led to a noticeabledecline in the influence of industrial labour in advanced societies (especially inEurope), and this has accentuated trends towards heterogeneity anddestandardisation of traditional forms of employment (Beck, 1992 and 2000;Hyman, 1994; Regini, 1994; Ruysseveldt & Visser, 1996; Costa, 2000).Tertiarisation and the rapid spread of new information technologies tend, in fact, toconceal the perverse effects these have on other segments, which are forced intosituations of greater dependency and degradation – as has occurred in EUeconomies that are regarded as being among the most dynamic – Ireland being acase in point (O’Hearn, 2000). So, the idyllic, neutral and fictitious notion of a homogenising and harmonisingglobalisation – an image largely manufactured by neo-liberalist ideologues and themass media at the service of hegemonic powers – needs to be dismantled. Globalneo-liberalism quickly entered a vertiginous dynamic, and today its impacts onlabour relations can be felt in all regions of the world. This means thatglobalisation does not exist outside time and space, and neither does it impend onthe political, economic and institutional powers that govern the world system – onthe contrary, it is the States, mainly the most powerful States among the corecountries, which are promoting global neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is, to a largedegree, based on the technological potential of developed countries. For thisreason, the global effects of these processes should be understood in apolymorphic sense, given that the multiple interactions and impacts they give riseto acquire highly diverse specificities and configurations, according to differentregional, spatial and social contexts – in other words, “globalisation” processesbring in their wake new forms of “localisation” (Boyer and Hollingsworth, 1997; 5
  6. 6. Elísio EstanqueSantos, 1995 and 2000). Any consideration of the Portuguese case should, therefore, take into accountthe fact that it is a society of intermediate development, and that only over the pasttwo decades has Portugal begun to implement socio-economic modernisationpolicies within the framework of its democratic consolidation process. In view of thegrowing influence of the abovementioned global processes, and their impacts onnational societies in all domains of social and economic life, it is worthwhilementioning some aspects of the discussion underway on industrial regulationregimes. The importance for Portugal of the development models that served as abasis for the core countries – particularly in the European setting – and the failureof some of those models, can only be understood in the light of the historic eventsand rapid social transformation processes that have taken place in our countrysince the 1970s. Two events were key turning points for Portuguese society andwere to be decisive milestones in the country’s modernisation efforts: the 25 April1974 revolution that heralded deep socio-political transformations and Portugal’smembership of the European Community in 1986. 2.2 – New and old productive models In recent years, several authors have discussed whether the failure of theFordist model and its inability to respond to the new demands of global markets willgive rise to a new and better model, or whether the response to new demandsmight more effectively be provided by a combination of various models. Theemergence of flexible modes of production is based on both productiveorganisation and consumer markets, and it is a response to the decline of the oldlogic of mass production for stable markets. However, it is not a case of a shiftfrom an industry focused economy to a services focused economy, but rather thecase of the end of Fordism in a post-industrial economy context, in which industryand services are converging more and more towards a complex productive system,intensive in human resources, geared to flexibility and quality. The Fordist modelcontinues to have an important space in certain activity sectors, regions andcountries, which stick to its principles because product diversification is 6
  7. 7. Elísio Estanqueaccompanied by large-scale standardisation of processes, sub-groups and/orcomponents (Kovács & Castillo, 1998). For analysts like Kovács and Castillo, who subscribe to increasingimplantation of lean production in more advanced economies, this model should becompared with what they call the anthropocentric model, so that the pros and consof each may be assessed. The former maintains some of the traditional forms ofproduction inherited from Taylorism, but incorporates more emphasis on aspectssuch as: stock and staff reduction, greater mobility and organisational flexibility,product quality, team work, multi-skilling, employee participation, managementthrough organizational culture, etc. However, it is still marred by the inherentdefects of a kind of interiorised Taylorism, which contributes to degradation ofworking conditions and marginalisation of the less skilled, in a Japanisation logicthat is unlikely to succeed in western societies. The anthropocentric modelemphasises technology tailored to suit internal skills, and seeks flexibility through aqualified, multi-skilled, participative workforce, that is capable of maximising theadvantages of new technological equipment. The underlying idea is that the newresources made available by the information society should be complemented byhuman capacities, such as autonomy, creativity, participation and cooperation, andthat competitive performance should go hand in hand with good quality of life. Uptake of this model in Europe, however, is slow, and faces barriers such asthe focus on the technological component in research, the persistence of Tayloristprinciples and mass production, the lack of organisational dynamics and dialoguemechanisms in labour relations. Kovács and Castillo put forward possiblealternative future scenarios: 1) a dualist neo-Taylorism based on unrestricteddevelopment of neo-liberalism, which would tend to entrench social and labourinequalities further, to a backdrop of deregulation, weakened trade unions andprecarious employment for the less skilled; 2) a moderate neo-Taylorism, withmitigation of some of Taylorism’s negative consequences by the effects of Stateredistribution actions, informal negotiation, vocational training and thestrengthening of some sectors of the workforce, whose bargaining power wouldincrease; 3) a hyper-competitive lean production scenario, with increased 7
  8. 8. Elísio Estanqueeconomic rationality, subordination of trade unions, and individual bargaining andparticipation at enterprise level, which is detrimental to collective bargaining,marginalizes the most vulnerable of the workforce, co-opts the more highly skilledworkers, and thus exacerbates inequalities and unemployment; and finally, 4), ananthropocentric model, only to emerge in the medium to long term as a result ofthe social consequences (the intensification of social conflicts) caused by thetendencies that are, apparently, on their way. It should be directed towardsreconciliation of social with economic objectives, encompass fuller democratisationof social life and humanisation of work, and adapt technological innovation so thatit is in keeping with social, ecological and organisational objectives, on a basis ofparticipation and bargaining strategies by employers and unions (Kovács &Castillo, 1998). Reference to these scenarios serves to position our reflection between theeconomic and social domains. Apart from their economic objectives, businessactivity and innovative capacity have a major impact on organisational and socio-cultural spheres. At the same time, in spite of growing transnationalisation ofbusiness activity, national societies still play an important part in terms ofproductive conditions and conquest of markets, even for internationalisedenterprises. As most studies have found, it would be wrong to conclude that themost competitive business and organisational strategies are simply a directconsequence of technological change. While major social transformations arebeing highly intensified by the rapid spread of new information technologies (NIT),it may be said that organisational innovation occurs independently of technologicalinnovation (Castells, 2000). 3 – Technological progress in Portugal: achievements and barriers The transformation process undergone by Portugal’s productive sector inrecent decades has been shaped by a series of factors – economic, political,social, institutional, etc. – which, in turn, have been intertwined with internal andexternal aspects. These include Portugal’s entry to the European Community, andthe subsequent array of initiatives designed to boost technological innovation in the 8
  9. 9. Elísio Estanquebusiness sector: scientific and technological research support programmes, andthe resulting increase in highly skilled human resources; education policies - theirachievements and failings -, and the difficulties encountered in articulatingstructural investment in research and educational domains with business practices.We refer to these aspects in particular because of their implications for theproductive sector and society at large. In spite of the recognised difficulties Portugal still faces in this respect, at leastsince the mid-1980s there have been solid indicators that the technologicaldevelopment process – as far as availability of specialised technical services andcomputerisation are concerned – is showing some signs of progress in certainareas. For example, according to surveys carried out in 1988-1989, mostPortuguese businesses had, by that time, computerised their accountsdepartments, around half had altered their personnel management methods and10% of these were using specialised technical services (either in-house orexternal), and had computerised their production management and process (Silva,1990). This, however, is far from constituting significant progress in technologicalinnovation, especially in business. 3.1 – Organisational change and innovation in R&D In the early 1980s, increasing attention was turned to policies regulatingscientific and technological activity, to improve its ties with industrial developmentby securing closer international relations with the OECD and UNESCO (Moura &Caraça, 1993). However, the conjunctural and, to an extent, defensive nature ofpolitics at that time, was reflected in, among other aspects, the markedlylukewarmness of these initiatives. The consolidation of new business groupsalongside traditional but hardly internationalised industrial sectors did not result inany significant progress in terms of efforts being made to overhaul the country’sscientific and technological system. For example, with regard enterpriseinnovation, studies have revealed that during the first half of the 1980s there was aclear drop in R&D spending (Gago, 1990; Gonçalves & Caraça, 1986), although,subsequently, spending rose significantly (Teixeira, 1996). 9
  10. 10. Elísio Estanque As mentioned above, the new institutional conditions that came into being asa result of Portugal’s entry to the European Community marked a turning point thatwould lead to the application of new instruments designed to boost technologicaldevelopment. Efforts to establish a scientific policy framework resulted in thereinforcement of the role of the JNICT (Junta Nacional de Investigação Científica eTecnológica), and, with the adoption of Law 91/88, new policy measuressupporting cooperation between scientific institutions and enterprises, bothnationally and internationally. This concern with technological innovation andinternational openness was to find reflection in the Framework-Programmes, theScience Programme and the STRIDE-Portugal Programme4, as well as in PEDIP Iand PEDIP II, co-funded by the ERDF and ESF (Tolda, 2000: 123). There was amarked increase in infrastructures supporting scientific and technological activityfollowing the PEDIP programmes: after 1988, 46 new units (institutes, centres,laboratories and/or technological schools) were opened, while before that date only16 were in existence. This fact is a good illustration of the importance of statepolicies that stimulate innovation, especially those that are more directly focusedon cooperation between research and productive activity. However, in spite of thePortuguese state’s support to industrial innovation, we still find ourselves facing abusiness landscape that, in the main, is weakly competitive when it comes totechnological innovation. When, as is the case, the improvement of competitiveconditions occurs precisely at the same time as the opening of borders andcoincides with more emphasis being placed on internationalisation, then thesectors concerned become exposed and vulnerable to more aggressiveinternational competition. This gives rise to new difficulties and can even neutralisethe economic success of the initiatives. During the latter half of the 1990s, R&D spending increased substantially – infact, it registered one of the largest increases in the OECD, especially in stateincentives –, nonetheless, spending is still low: in the 1995-1997 period, R&Dspending was in the region of 0,68% of GDP, which is 37% of the average for EUcountries and about 31% of the average among OECD countries (Godinho, 1999).4 Science and Technology for Regional Innovation and Development in Europe. 10
  11. 11. Elísio EstanquePortugal is one of the least innovative countries in terms of the processing industry,while the chemical, paper and metal products industries are the mostrepresentative industrial sectors in R&D spending, and employ the most qualifiedhuman resources. In contrast, the traditional sectors such as textiles, clothing andfootwear, in spite of having also benefited substantially from the incentivesavailable under the PEDIPs (I and II), still have much lower technological potential.The impacts of the recent incentives policy have, however, contributed to reducingthe structural immobility and polarisation of traditional sectors in our industry.(Salavisa, 2001). In any case, the positive developments that have taken place during the pastfew decades, particularly in relation to scientific research that, as we know, is a keyfactor in innovative potentiality, are worth mentioning. The number of doctoratesawarded in Portugal each year is presently about ten times higher than in the early1970s. Furthermore, nowadays, over 80% of these doctorates are granted bynational universities, while, before the 1980s, most doctorates were obtained frominstitutions abroad. Nonetheless, according to a recent study by Mira Godinho(1999), figures relating to the distribution of highly qualified human resources(Masters and Doctors) reveal that their presence in private enterprise is almostinsignificant: of the total number of employees with higher level academicqualifications in private enterprise, only 2.4% have doctorates, and 3.4% havemaster degrees. The most qualified human resources working in R&D are to befound, above all, in the higher education system and related institutions (non-profitmaking research units): in 1997, 28,8% of them were working for the state, 47,9%in higher education institutions, 11% in enterprise, and 12,3% in non-profit makinginstitutions (Godinho, 1999: 124). So, the positive signs of progress in this respectrelate to the enormous increase in doctorates and equivalents in the 1990s, thesubstantial increase in people associated with R&D work (from just 4,000 in 1964to over 18,000 in 1997), and a marked increase in Portuguese scientific productionreferred to internationally. However, the human resources in question still tend tobe drawn to the academic domain, the increase in numbers of researchers has notbeen balanced with increased numbers of technical and auxiliary research staff, 11
  12. 12. Elísio Estanqueand the human resources in R&D in enterprises are extremely few (Godinho, 1999:130). While it is true to say that the main change processes, in the technical andorganisational spheres, were closely associated with the institutional incentivesavailable, their success and real effects on business always depend on the socialresources and conditions that can be mobilised from within. In this respect, the newentrepreneurial dynamic that began in the latter half of the 1980s, with the increasein competition and expansion of markets, has brought about some changes interms of productivity and better product quality, and the consequences of this willundoubtedly be felt in innovation and vocational training (Freire, 1998).Nevertheless, if business mentality began, early on, to show signs of someappetite for and confidence in competitive advantage based on technologicalinnovation, the same cannot be said for organisational change. This has to do witha traditionalist approach that is still embedded in Portugal’s business fabric andcontinues to be the main barrier to innovation and to its effective practical results.As some studies have revealed, business mentality still has strong reservationsabout the need for changes in organisational structure and labour systems.“Receptiveness to social innovation is quite limited. Firms’ innovative activity isbased primarily on the acquisition of technical-scientific expertise from outside andon the purchase of capital assets and intermediate assets from other firms. Therole of research and development (R&D) activities inside firms is very limited”(Kovács, 1992: 288). Until the early 1990s particularly, increases in Portuguese industrial outputwere largely due to investment in new productive equipment, that is to say, effortsto change and innovate were primarily motivated by the desire to cut productioncosts by investing in machinery and material equipment. Furthermore, in spite ofPortugal’s economic recovery during the 1980s, labour rights inherited from thelatter half of the preceding decade basically remained in force, and this, combinedwith the considerable negotiating capacity of important trade union sectors and acertain awareness of employers’ impotence to challenge it, contributed to delaying 12
  13. 13. Elísio Estanquetechnological innovation efforts in many firms and vital sectors of Portugueseindustry. Studies carried out in the 1990s found that reliance on informationtechnologies was on the increase but, at the same time, they discovered that firmswere shying away from investing in immaterial elements, and that centralisingapproaches and lack strategy in management were persisting (CISEP/GEPIE,1992; Simões, 1996). The panorama in terms of technological innovation inPortuguese enterprises may be summed up as follows: barriers to innovation haveless to do with resources’ capacity and are more a result of lack of strategy; theattitudes of entrepreneurs and senior management are a key determinant forinnovation initiatives; the traditional model of centralised management constitutesthe biggest obstacle to innovation; the shortage of technicians and humanresources is cited by SMEs as a major stumbling block; technological change isfrequently regarded as exogenous to business activity; more open styles ofleadership that encourage team work are found in most innovative firms; there isno obvious correlation between the size of an enterprise and its attitude towardsinnovation; there is growing awareness of the need to use new technologies, interms of both design and production areas, as well as in communication networksand database sharing; there is a link between the age (youthfulness) of a firm andits receptiveness towards innovation (Simões, 1996). 3.2 – Knowledge, education and human resources The situation described above illustrates that the necessary structural andcultural conditions are not yet favourable enough for implementing flexibleorganisational models, which can promote articulation between individual andcollective incentives, i.e. models that are geared to a balanced combination of thetechnical and human factors. So, the signals are contradictory and reflecttendencies towards both stagnation and renewal. The current wave of microenterprise creation (up to 10 employees), many of which are headed by youngentrepreneurs, and the increasing implementation of new programmes designed toencourage modernisation – such as the POE (Programa Operacional da Economia 13
  14. 14. Elísio Estanque/ Operational Economy Program), aimed to promote information technologies in theso called traditional sectors, enhance forms of organisation and management, andupgrade workforce skills, and the SIPIE – (Sistema de Pequenas IniciativasEmpresariais / Small Business Initiatives System) –, are encouraging signs thatPortuguese enterprise could still manage to recover lost ground in technologyincorporation and innovation capability. A recent government backed schemespecifically focusing innovation, Proinov (Programa Integrado de Apoio à Inovação/ Innovation Support Programme) is endeavouring to reassess and give freshimpetus to identifying the clusters proposed by Michael Porter in the 1980s, and todevelop new initiatives for each cluster, coordinating the involvement of thedifferent stakeholders: enterprises, technology centres, training centres,polytechnics and R&D establishments. Although the “Porter Report” rightlycontained an important warning that, as Proinov Coordinator Maria João Rodriguesacknowledged, has been heeded by the main economic agents, it failed to putenough emphasis on the importance of new information technologies and theirpotential impact on Portugal’s most vital economic sectors (car, footwear, knittedgarments, wood products, tourism and wine). Proinov’s Coordinator believes that itis imperative now to establish a high degree of “articulation between public,technology, enterprise support and R&D policies, promote partnerships in civilsociety, and identify more rigorous criteria for awarding incentives” (Público,11/05/01). Statistics published in the UNDP’s latest Human Development Report (2001)shed further light on the most recent evolutions concerning Portugal’s technologicalpotential. Figures (relating to 2000) for average years schooling among thegeneral population (over 15 years of age) rank Portugal, with 5,9, below countrieslike Slovenia (7,1), Barbados (8,7), Czech Republic (9,5), Croatia (6,3), Uruguay(7,6), and Chile (7,6), which are just a few of the countries with lower ranking thanPortugal in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDR/UNDP, 2001: 52).According to the Report, Portugal ranks 28th in terms of Human Development and27th on the new Technological Achievement Index5 contained in the report.5 This index was based on criteria such as: number of patents per capita (newly created and royalties’ 14
  15. 15. Elísio EstanqueCuriously, however, when it comes to some of the most important elements in thebuilding of global communication networks – and key factors in advancinginnovation –, such as telephones (fixed and mobile) and Internet, Portugal hadmade remarkable progress. The number of fixed telephone subscribers rosebetween 1990 and 1999 from 243 to 424 per 1,000 people. In the same period thenumber of mobile telephone users rocketed from 1 to 468 per 1,000 people, whileInternet users went up from 1.3 to 17.7 per 1,000 people. These general trends reflect a degree of structural change in the country andreflect how the technological component is both a cause and effect of complexpatterns of social practices. If, as we stated at the beginning of this chapter,technologies are not self-determining, but are result of multiple causalities –institutional, socio-economic and cultural –, education is unquestionably a keyelement in social development and technological innovation processes. It isimportant to realise that, in spite of impressive developments in the Portugueseeducation system in recent decades, the visible results of its progress are stillrelatively few when brought to an international level. According to the OECD(1998), Portugal still occupies penultimate place in terms of population percentagewith at least secondary education, i.e. just 20% of the population between 25 and64 years have completed that level of education, which is close to one third of theaverage (60%) for OECD countries. However, it should be remembered thatnumbers in higher education in Portugal have risen sharply since the 1970s: in1970-1971 higher education students numbered around 49,000, in 1980-1981 thefigure had risen to 84,000, in 1990-1991 it was 186,000, and in 1999-2000 it hadreached around 370,000. Nonetheless, the percentage of Portugal’s populationwith higher education is still in the region of 8 to 9%, which is well below both theEuropean and OECD averages (15%). Only 26% of all higher education studentsgraduate in exact sciences and technologies (Natural Sciences, Mathematics andincome); spread of old (telephone and electricity), and recent (internet) innovation; export of medium andhigh technology products, and human resources qualifications (years of schooling and sciences andtechnology graduates) (cf. HDR – Human Development Report / UNDP – United Nations DevelopmentProgram, 2001: 46). 15
  16. 16. Elísio EstanqueComputing, Engineering, Medical Sciences and Architecture), which puts Portugalin last place and well behind other European Union countries6 (Barreto, 2000: 46). 3.3 – Endogenisation and spatial context Clearly, policies designed to stimulate enterprise innovation and R&D activityor education policies cannot, alone, resolve existing deficiencies, especially atenterprise level, but they can make a decisive impact on the potential for scientificinnovation, and galvanise mechanisms that will narrow the present divide and bringscientific research and the productive sector into closer contact. It should bestressed, therefore, that, more than the existence of coherent state policies andincentives, it is endogenous factors that can most decisively promote technologicalinnovation based and framed by orientations and change strategies adjusted to suitthe country’s own specificities and needs. Improving the potential and resources structurally linked to business activity indifferent productive sectors cannot, therefore, be separated from the capabilitiesgenerated within enterprises or the technical-cultural conditioning factors of theenvironments and spaces in which they operate. Indeed, even in a context ofincreasing globalisation of markets and competitiveness, local productive systemsand the range of synergies they generate are key elements in that respect. Thismeans that innovative capacities, even where international competitiveness isconcerned, essentially depend on sectoral and local dynamics, and these remainspatially linked to regions, cultures and networks (formal and informal) endowedwith different conditions to “promote endogenous innovation dynamics and,therefore, to become centres for bringing about socio-economic changes” (Reis etal, 1999: 127). Local cooperation networks have already proved that they can befactors in advancing technology, even during the Fordist model era, even though,in these cases, generally supported by a high degree of specialisation, crisissituations increased (Heidenreich & Krauss, 1998). In fact, it is above all in thecontexts and regions, where the diversity of local, formal and implicit expertise and6 Figures for other EU countries are: Denmark, 37%; Germany 48%; Spain, 32%; France, 37%, Ireland, 39%;Italy, 33%; Holland, 31%; Austria, 33%; Finland, 60%; Sweden, 47%; UK, 36% (Barreto, 2000: 46). 16
  17. 17. Elísio Estanqueskills combines with efforts to open up to the outside and turn towards globalmarkets, that the highest levels of effectiveness in responding to crisis situationshas been found (Cooke, 1998). Clearly, the wealth of knowledge, skills andresources acquired by a given sector or located in a particular region, albeitaccumulated in an already outdated framework of regulation models, is stillpotentially decisive in the face of new challenges, as long as it can be capitalisedon and reapplied in the emerging conditions. This endogenisation andincorporation of new skills, in the sense of applying them in today’s global marketsand networks, has hardly achieved any substantial results in Portugal. Relevant to this approach is the notion of “industrial district”, that is,territorially structured concentrations of mainly small firms, which have developedcomplex networks of mutual trust and cooperation on a basis of interdependentsystems, in which the regional division of labour configures particular conditionsthat can improve competitiveness in a sustained way. In these contexts, which arewell identified in Italy (Becattini, 1994), a prominent role is played by the collective,skilled and well-paid worker, who is, at the same time, involved in businessmanagement strategies and policies, and is a key factor in the process ofmaximising performance and innovative potentialities. Such examples alsoillustrate how technical innovation and the social dimension are, or should be,inseparable components. In an atmosphere of stability, in which social dialogue isfostered, and economic, social and political institutions work together to deviseinnovation strategies, the ideal conditions for boosting technological innovationmay be found (Castillo, 1998; Kovács & Castillo, 1998). 4 – Social transformation, technological innovation and organisationalchange At this point, we shall consider the impacts of new technologies in terms ofmacro-structural change trends, on one hand, and organisational and labourdynamics at micro level, on the other. Firstly, it should be underlined that theproductive industries sector and labour market in general continue to be thefundamental basis from which the main currents of socio-economic transformation 17
  18. 18. Elísio Estanqueof today’s societies flow. As we saw in the previous point, creativity, technicalcapacity and scientific productivity are worth little if they do not find reflection in thelabour system and while they continue to be divorced from business activity.Technological evolution and social transformation have always been closely linked,mainly because new skills generated by society aim to achieve new objectives andsatisfy new demands, whether these are institutional or political, material orsymbolic, individual or collective. Their purpose is a practical application that fulfilssociety’s expectations, and, at the same time, generates transforming effects onpeople’s lives, and causes changes, to a greater or lesser degree, at macro-sociallevel. The relationship between technological development and its impacts onlabour relations, however, has always been contradictory. Ever since the IndustrialRevolution, the economic sphere and production relations have been modernsocieties’ main infrastructure. Since the productive sphere is such a key dimensionin the structuration of our societies’ social divisions and classes, the introduction ofnew technologies has always been a contentious issue in social relations at work,a world itself already marked by constant conflict. What are the most importantchanges we ought to consider in that respect in order to understand socialtransformation? Which new trends should be identified in order to understand thechanges occurring on the threshold of the new millennium? 4.1 – Technological innovation and structural change During the latter half of the last century in particular, the social impacts oftechnology were studied, in the context of the new political and institutionalconditions of the post-war period, as the central element in the recomposition ofthe workforce and social classes in general. Ralf Dharendorf (1982) consideredtechnological innovation and the professionalisation of business managementstructures as being responsible for the major transformations of industrial societies.Different authors based their analyses of the growth of the middle classes and thesocial mobility phenomenon on similar assumptions (Lockwood, 1966; Goldthorpe,1969; Giddens, 1975). 18
  19. 19. Elísio Estanque The reason it is worth referring to such structural phenomena is not justbecause crucial periods of change, caused in the main by the introduction of newtechnologies in the business sector, need to be identified, but also becausealthough many of these processes have been occurring in industrial societies fordecades, their repercussions on Portuguese society have only very recently begunto be felt, given our country’s relative economic and technological backwardness. The main social effects caused by such processes may be summarised asfollows: 1) new divisions among salaried employees – between manual and non-manual workers, between technocrats and bureaucrats – that are a result ofmechanisation and professionalisation of management, have led to major changesin the productive structure; 2) market and individual competitiveness to achievemore rewarding positions has encouraged individualism among skilled sectors ofthe workforce, and fostered the emergence of a “new middle class” of salariedemployees, tending to be identified with liberal ideology and the principle ofmeritocracy; 3) growing internal differentiation among these intermediate segmentsof the working class gave rise to further tensions and divisions, reflecting side-effects of the overall labour market restructuring process: as new occupationsemerged, categories in decline created new self-defence logics, while newqualified categories generated new social climbing opportunities; 4) growingindividualism in certain sectors was accompanied by more active trade unionism inother sectors of the middle class, revealing that mobility phenomena themselvesalso cause social conflict; 5) in spite of these incongruities, the integratingconsequences of increasing social mobility, allied with the new social policies ofthe Welfare State, led some authors to identify these intermediate levels of theworking class as a new service class7; 6) new patterns of class formation and newpost-Fordist and post-industrial type polarisation, namely the appearance of new7 The concept of the service class was formulated as follows: “Employees render service to their employingorganization in return for ‘compensation’, which takes the form not only of reward for work done, through asalary and various perquisites, but also comprises important prospective elements – for example, salaryincrements on an established scale, assurances of security both in employment and, through pensions rights,after retirement, and, above all, well-defined career opportunities” (Erikson e Goldthorpe, 1992: 41-42).According to the same authors, in spite of the constant growth of new sectors of professional workers andqualified salaried employees, the general trends point to an increase in heterogeneity in these sectors, while inthe upper levels of the non-propertied middle class homogeneity in the last decade seems to be growing(Goldthorpe, 1995). 19
  20. 20. Elísio Estanqueproletarian segments in the service sector; 7) the emergence of new forms of classstruggle and new social movements that distanced themselves from both Marxismand pure individualism, giving rise to a new middle class radicalism (Parkin, 1978;Eder, 1993; Erikson & Goldthorpe, 1992; Esping-Anderson, 1993). 4.2 –Labour market and recomposition of the class structure in Portugal A study that we undertook recently on social classes in Portuguese society(Estanque, 1997; Estanque & Mendes, 1998), systematically revealed how someof the tendencies we referred to above are configured in our country. The datacollected provide us with a better understanding of the workforce’s composition,skills and employment conditions, its influence in decision-making, its authority,and its educational qualifications. It provides important insight into the extent towhich technology has been incorporated in enterprise, and into differencesbetween the public and private sectors’ absorption of workforce categories. Thecomparison of the study’s results with figures for other countries (US, Sweden andSpain) revealed that Portugal has the highest class location percentage – 46.5% –of what we term “proletarians” (workers with no significant qualifications, and noauthority or autonomy at work). This high figure is not just due to the unskilled,declining industrial workforce, but also to a labour market that is structuring varioussectors of precarious, low skilled employment in both industry and services.However, for the purposes of this text, the most important findings relate to thedistribution of the different middle class categories, i.e., the arrangement ofdifferent skills levels and degrees of authority on the employment market. Incomparison with our Spanish neighbours, apart from the similarity in theprominence of a traditional petit bourgeoisie, the percentage of skilled workers inSpain is substantially higher than in Portugal (18.5 and 5.8% respectively), areflection of the fact that Spain is more capital intensive and its enterprises aremore technologically advanced. In other words, given that it is usually largeenterprises that invest more heavily in modern technology, and that more of theSpanish workforce has been absorbed by big firms, the results for Spain showlarger numbers of higher skilled and better qualified workers. 20
  21. 21. Elísio Estanque The fragility and small scale of Portugal’s business fabric is also reflected inthe results of the study: over 60% of the workforce is employed in firms of less than50 salaried employees, while the higher skilled categories are mostly to be foundworking in the public sector. Unsurprisingly, Portugal’s middle class locations are,on the whole, less significant than in other core countries (US and Sweden), andclearly inferior to Spain’s. There is, however, an interesting distinction that should be clarified. We arereferring to distinctions between positions that have both authority and educationalresources (categories referred to as skilled or semi-skilled “managers” or“supervisors”) and those for which hierarchical authority is not based on significantacademic qualifications (non-skilled “managers” or “supervisors”). With regards theformer, the Portuguese class structure appears to be considerably lacking in thesepositions in comparison with developed countries, while with regard to the latter,Portugal’s percentage is higher than that found in the other countries. Clear signsalso emerged of growth in some of the more skilled positions (from categories withmore authority to those that, although better qualified, do not yet have anyauthority), which are being absorbed into the labour market and now to be found ina reasonable number of medium and even small enterprises. Underlying thisscenario, there is, on one hand, the effects of rapid growth in the number ofgraduates in Portugal, and some modernisation in certain labour market sectors,which are starting to absorb those graduates, and on the other hand, thepersistence of structural weaknesses in our productive fabric. The fact thattraditional industries are relatively sizeable and composed mainly of small firmsmeans that there are large sectors that recoil from incorporating skilled labour. Atthe same time, new and better skilled generations entering the labour marketappear, on the whole, not to be involved in firms’ decision-making processes. Thissuggests that, when reinforcing staff, many firms now using modern technologiestend to give preference to those with long experience and loyalty to the establishedhierarchies rather than promote their more qualified employees. This is clearly aproblem in enterprises, and it tends to pervade the dynamic of organisationsgenerally. In fact, societies and enterprises are permanently faced with this 21
  22. 22. Elísio Estanquepredicament, which could be regarded as a corollary of the dilemma betweenpromotion of meritocracy and perpetuation of existing power structures. Newtechnologies, and competitiveness imperatives that technologies seek to address,compound the complexity of the situation for both the social level and theorganisational domain. 4.3 – Between macro and micro Even though the issues referred to above are more directly connected withPortuguese society’s macro-structural level, our intent is not to focus on society asa whole and subordinate the micro or organisation level approach. Much less is itour intention to consider the two levels of analysis separately. Structure, accordingto Giddens, can be regarded as a “virtual order” that establishes the conditions forthe “structuration” of social life, both individual and collective (Giddens, 1989). Theeffects of structure’s capacity on the microworld and on individual life entail thecreation of profound “illusions”, which become “real” for all intents. If this distinctionis maintained, it only makes sense if we position ourselves at a point where thesetwo levels cut across each other to reach a multifaceted and complex knowledge ofthe wider social world. (Fine, 1991). It is important, therefore, not to forget that society’s structural configurations,while conditioning individual and organisational life, constantly undergo themoulding pressure that individuals, organisations, associations, state institutions,etc. – in short, the social actors – bring to bear in real life. It is true that thestructuring effects of these actions can mobilise multiple resources and lead to veryvaried consequences for organisations and society generally. For example,technological development policies and organisational change and transformationinitiatives are part of the social structuration processes, and distinction can even bemade between immediate structuration logics, when a new technological system isintroduced in a given sector or firm, and mediate structuration logics, when theeffects of economic, education or scientific policies start to make an impact on therecomposition of the productive fabric or the class structure of a given society(Giddens, 1989). 22
  23. 23. Elísio Estanque It is important to bear in mind that the organisational level of the analysiscannot be approached separately from the social and systemic structures of whichfirms and organisations are part. The tree must be seen in the context of the forestthat conditions its development, but it is important that the view of the forest doesnot prevent us from seeing each tree in detail. 4.4 – Organisational culture and fragmentation of labour For decades organisational theories prioritised microanalysis and, voluntarilyor not, followed a functionalist conception that tended to regard the organisation’ssocial world either as merely the result of external impacts or as systems with theirown coherence but detached from the wider social world. Meanwhile, andespecially since the advent of the Welfare State, in a context of growingtertiarisation of economies and institutionalisation of trade unionism, bureaucraticsystems expanded and labour markets stabilised, supported by more effectivewelfare policies and better security guarantees in employment. While markets andinternational competition continued to function on the basis of traditional customsconstraints, with relatively closed borders, and domestic markets regulated bystability, particularly in the framework of a global balance marked by the “cold war”,functional and rationalist management tendencies continued to hold sway in majorindustries. In this setting, technological development was, for a long time, markedby the Taylorist model, which led to the growth of mechanised systems that werelacking in organisational flexibility. However, following the economic crisis of the 1970s and, above all, whenconfronted by the aggressive competition of Asian economies in the 1980s,enterprises in the West, particularly leading US corporations, began revampingtheir management strategies and promoting organisational cultures geared towardsflexibilisation and more efficient utilisation of human resources. From the late1980s onwards, the situation changed dramatically, especially in the wake of thecollapse of the Soviet bloc, and in view of the complete liberalisation of world trade.There was a change of scale in the economic world. We entered global marketsera. In this whole process, technological innovation played a decisive role and it 23
  24. 24. Elísio Estanquewas mainly the technologically advanced enterprises that became the driversbehind more participative and informal business cultures, and, borrowing from theJapanese example, promoted a new sense of ethics among employees, newrituals, symbols and heroes, which tended to strengthen identification with the“company spirit” and, thus, enhanced competitive performance. However, while themodel made a considerable impact in the US, the outcome in Europe was differentdue to the influence of trade unionism and more structured resistance cultures. In recent years, the impacts of technological development on Portugal’sproductive industries sector have been meeting with resistance from aconservative business mentality, that pays all too much heed to status and powerhierarchies – attitudes that are still very much entrenched in our society (and towhich we shall refer further on). The changes being introduced are, on the whole,barely perceptible in the large organisations. In bigger enterprises, flexiblemanagement policies are only found, by and large, at senior executive and highgrade professional level. Nonetheless, the employment market is absorbing neweducational skills: the quota of employment with middle-level qualifications, forexample, grew between 1985 and 1997 from 10.7% to 14.6%, while the quota withhigher levels (degrees and baccalaureates) rose from 3% to 6.1% (Figueiredo,1999: 73). The impacts of increasing flexibilisation and recomposition in the productivesector have led to new segmentations in which clear differences are appearing inthe enterprise geometry, but where there is still considerable difficulty in renewal.Sometimes, familiarisation with new technologies fosters insecurity and createsnew divisions among the workforce. For example, when vocational trainingprogrammes involve the use of computers, people with poor educationalbackgrounds and older trainees sometimes more difficulties. Foremost competitivecapacity is, on the whole, still to be found among the traditional sectors that chieflystick to largely labour intensive, low wage cost Taylorist organisational models. Itwas in these sectors primarily that employment grew most, but their innovativeeffort in terms of technologies has been negligible, and innovation that wasintroduced was mainly incremental. 24
  25. 25. Elísio Estanque Considering that generational renewal and the impact of younger, betterqualified resources entering the labour market is proceeding at a very slow pace, itis understandable that within organisations there are contradictory logics, whichlead to incongruous approaches that often cancel each other out, and fosterstagnation and routine in organisations. Although new technological means andcomputerised systems are gradually changing this state of affairs, alterations aretaking place in a context of growing fragmentation of production processes, givingrise to a perverse conjugation of different forms of employment relationship, whereprecarious employment and fixed-term contracts abound, in addition to outsourcingand various types of subcontraction and fragmentation of firms. So, problems of business mentality and organisational culture have to beregarded in the light of wider labour and social transformations that, since the1970s, have been occurring in Portuguese society, which, in barely two decades,has undergone multiple change processes that have heightened contrasts in allaspects of its social and economic life. Divisions deepened between the coastaland interior regions, between rural and urban areas, between different productiveindustries, between generations, between agriculture and industry, between socialsectors in decline and new emerging sectors. The traditionalist logics of a semi-rural society have clashed with new consumer habits and modern life styles. Theindustrial plott of some of the most important sectors of the Portuguese economy isdispersed in highly rural areas, where a range of economic activities and solidaritynetworks – the so-called “welfare society” – sometimes function to complementworkers’ incomes. On the other hand, the rapid growth of the public and stateenterprise sector, whose expansion occurred in at a time of considerable tradeunion sway and activity, had, in our view, very important consequences in that itled to unanimist cultures and resistance to change among vast sectors of theworkforce, especially in traditional industry and the public administration. Theestablishment of intensely bureaucratic systems or even the expansion ofcorporativist-type cultures generally constitutes powerful forces that can tend toresist or thwart efforts to innovate and modernise firms and institutions. 25
  26. 26. Elísio Estanque 4.5 – New skills and new organisational models How can these tendencies be framed in a setting in which the knowledgeeconomy and ITs play an increasingly decisive role? In addition to the differencesbetween various sectors and labour segments, it seems clear that the growing(albeit as yet insubstantial) presence of advanced technologies leads to newpatterns of opportunities and careers for the more qualified professionals, while, atthe same time, segregates groups that are harder to recycle because of newtraining requirements. Just as has occurred internationally, Portugal has alsowitnessed new segmentation tendencies among large companies and small firms(Andrieu, 1999, Wareham, 1999). There is a growing bipolarisation of, on onehand, the typical leadership logics of large economic groups, in which there aremergers and strategic alliances functioning on the basis of vertical integrationprocesses, against, on the other, the innumerable small firms emerging, whichhave been stimulated by the lack of need for personnel and cumbersomebureaucratic structures, and by the availability and usability of new technologies(Almeida, 2000: 13). Portugal’s inadequacies in terms of innovation knowledge calls for greaterinvestment in creating flexible structures and cooperation strategies on the basis ofnetworks for disseminating and absorbing that knowledge, supported by incentivesfor investment in innovation and in people. Better utilisation of skills requiresenvironments that foster interaction between the internal and external environmentthat galvanises mutually beneficial learning processes. Competitiveness andinnovation initiatives will have to address improved articulation between theeducation system, skills learned in employment, vocational training and careerprogression policies, and greater flexibility, rotation and participation to maximisethe knowledge resources potential that is so often underutilised. This means thatboosting innovation necessitates creating conditions for wider participation andinvolvement by collaborators, and this is particularly viable in some SMEs, wherequalified human resources and new technologies predominate. Attitudes that aremore open to innovation tend to be those that attach more importance toimmaterial rather than material factors, i.e. a focus on areas such as vocational 26
  27. 27. Elísio Estanquetraining, organisational development, information systems, cooperation, design andR&D activities is more compatible with the creation of new assets and distinctiveskills (Moreno & Nunes, 2000: 48- 49). It may be said, therefore, that the potentialities in the organisational sphereare confronted with the contradictions to which we have referred above. Given therecognised difficulties of applying in Portugal (and in European societies generally)models inspired in neo-corporativist cultures, like those that dominate in large USand Japanese multinationals (Peters & Waterman, 1987; Reto & Lopes, 1989), theimplementation of organisational strategies that are able to address newcompetitive and technological need to be adapted to suit not only sectoralspecificities and particular endogenisation potentialities, but also the more generalcharacteristics of Portugal’s productive fabric. In short, the different sectors of our economic activity reflect a wide variety oforganisational orientations and cultures: in the more traditional industrial sectors,there are 1) small firms, with simple management structures, characterised bypaternalism and by short-term objectives, 2) medium enterprises, whereauthoritarian and centralist styles persist, and the overriding motivation is to makeeasy profit, 3) predominantly bureaucratic-mechanisist systems or divisionalisedstructures, in large tertiary sector enterprises and public administration, and 4) inthe most competitive and innovative enterprises, a logic of initiative based onindividual incentives persists, which is complemented by recourse to semi-autonomous teams of specialised professionals like, sometimes, to externalconsultancy, and a technocentric culture tends to prevail (Mintzberg, 1995). The effects of increasing market competitiveness and institutional initiativeshave, as we have said, generated quite considerable changes in varioussegments, but future challenges and falls in economic growth expose abundantshortcomings. It is, therefore, imperative that new ways of dealing with the existingproblems are found. Some solutions proposed cover aspects such as: 1) therestructuring of scientific activity and creation of mechanisms that will ensure thatthe knowledge created in universities is disseminated in society and enterprise,i.e., greater institutional efficiency and greater interconnection between knowledge 27
  28. 28. Elísio Estanqueproducing centres and organisational and social reality, which could take the formof 2) organising intensive, short courses at universities that would provide analternative to young people with secondary education, and be geared tospecialisation in different occupational areas; or, 3) organisation of post-graduatespecialised or transdisciplinary courses, devised in conjunction with industrialassociations and other economic agents; 4) greater incentives to associativismsupported by locally based networking, which interconnect education systemresources and existing social capital, are oriented by entrepreneurship, and involvedifferent social actors and promote cooperation between the social economy, thethird sector and business initiative; 5) new and more consistent business networksand strategies geared to innovation, in an institutional frame of reference that isbetter suited to an economy in transition, like Portugal’s, in order to combat thepessimism that is entrenched in the business sector; 6) creation of alternativeforms of financing innovation, by promoting compensation supported by existingresources and expertise, so as to increase new forms of cooperation amongtraditional firms and new technology based enterprises, creating multipolarinterdisciplinary networks; 7) greater efforts in vocational training, in liaison witheducational establishments and the different social actors and developmentagents, so as to not only implant new skills and qualifications, but to rearticulate oldskills and qualifications acquired through practical experience with newtechnologies and scientific know-how (cf. Boyer, et. al., 2000; Lopes, 2001; Kovács& Castillo, 1998; Conceição & Heitor, 2001; Tavares, 2000). 4.6 – Power structures and participation The introduction of new technologies and gradual absorption of largernumbers of skilled professionals tends to encourage more efficient communicationsystems and greater flexibilisation of personnel management methods. It is thenthat profound organisational restructuring processes generally meet with resistancerooted in inertia and embedded power logics. In Portugal, power structures havecertain specificities in social and organisational life, both in their material resultsand the symbolic effects they generate. 28
  29. 29. Elísio Estanque There is a very deeply rooted tendency in Portugal to sanctify power – in itsinstitutional and political forms, as well as at socio-cultural levels. A certainsymbolism is generally attached to people in positions of authority that unleashescomplex webs of representations, behaviours and alliance games. The powerdistance inscribed in the mental programme of the Portuguese (referred to byHofstede, 1980) reflects the high tolerance on the part of subordinates to theexercise of authority by their hierarchical superiors. Now this, combined with thelow levels of individuality – and, therefore, initiative in the dispute for influence indecision-making – and strong personal loyalties, characteristic of a society ofintermediate development, cultivates atmospheres that facilitate abuses ofauthority. On one hand, those in prominent positions and leadership roles,generally expect and demand limitless dedication from their subordinates and, onthe other, subordinates themselves generally contribute – willingly or evenfawningly –, to augmenting their superiors’ power resources. These characteristics also reflect the profound inequalities and divisionsprevalent in Portuguese social culture, not just in the socio-economic sphere andcultural and educational resources, but also in terms of subjective attitudes andclass cultures that are marked by resentment, which are aspects that are at theroot of mistrust, often with manichaistic undertones, which lead to rejection ofchange and innovation projects (Assunção & Bilhim, 1998)8. When confronted withrecent labour market restructuring processes, and risks and threats, such asunemployment, are in the air, then it is easy to foresee negative consequences andpessimist attitudes towards innovation programmes. Moreover, when, as generallyhappens, such innovation and organisational change programmes are notaccompanied by internal negotiations involving the workforce, that distrust andresistance can take even more serious forms. The recent phenomena ofpsychological violence or moral harassment (Hirrigoyen, 1999), with itspathological consequences, is just one form that growing pressure for individual8 Resistance from less skilled segments identified by these analysts in a case study focusing thecommunications sector. 29
  30. 30. Elísio Estanquecompetitiveness can take, and has occurred among poorly skilled workers as wellas highly qualified professionals. An important area to be mentioned has to do with the question of socialpartners’ and workers’ participation in the organisational change and technologicalinnovation processes. We have already referred to the idea, emphasised invarious studies, that innovation strategies are more suited to flexible andparticipative management models. We also mentioned the influence of trade unionintervention in inhibiting innovation. Indeed, for a very long time Portuguese tradeunions clung on to strategies of resistance and defence of privileges gained byworkers following 25 April 1974. Until the 1990s, the main industry trade unions –especially those affiliated to the CGTP – doggedly refused to accept restructuringprogrammes and focused their efforts mainly on defending jobs and acquiredrights. In many processes involving company restructuring, bankruptcy andfragmentation, trade unions have been overtaken by circumstances and lost theirprotagonism, both in the negotiating processes and in terms of their ownmembership. Besides, as we know, involvement of workers and theirrepresentatives in restructuring programmes has not been given enough attentionfrom the agents of change. What existing studies reveal is that, in most cases,enterprise modernisation processes are carried out without the involvement of thepeople, or, when they are involved, it happens “just at the implementation stagesand in less developed forms (information and consultation) (...), there is noinvolvement whatsoever of those affected by the change in the planning stage”(Kovács & Castillo, 1998: 127-128). The outcome of this type of procedure is that,in many instances, those who are potentially major driving forces behindorganisational change simply abide by decisions taken by others and becomedisgruntled workers because they have been made to feel inferior and/ormarginalised. They are unlikely, therefore, to mobilise in support of a companyproject that has not involved them. A parcipative culture naturally works better withhigher skilled sectors that incorporate more knowledge, more social capital and arebetter rewarded at work. Thus, technological innovation can contribute to greater 30
  31. 31. Elísio Estanqueparticipation since it tends to favour workforce renewal and, on the other hand, if itis accompanied by increasing endogenisation of human resources and knowledgeby enterprises, it will necessarily lead to more open and flexible managementmodels. However, the effects of neo-liberal globalisation, with growing fragmentationof labour and more precarious industrial relations, have become factors that puttrade union structures under enormous pressure and that generally prevent anykind of organised intervention by workers in decision-making processes. As aresult, we have witnessed trade union activity (and that of enterprise-level Workers’Committees) progressively weaken. This has led trade union leaderships to turntheir sights towards seeking new responses and rethinking forms of unionintervention and participation. Trade unions’ range of concerns has widened toencompass transnational issues and to embrace more diverse social andeconomic problems, including areas that are not directly employment-related. Forthat reason trade unionism will, unquestionably, have to play a decisive role intechnological innovation, economic development and modernisation policies. As amatter of fact, there are already clear signs of progress being made in thatdirection (Hyman, 1997; Costa, 2000; Ferreira, 1996; Silva, 2000; Estanque, 2001). It is our view, therefore, that the proposals and programmes devoted tospreading anthropocentric production systems (to which we referred at the start ofthis chapter) seem particularly appropriate to the pursuit of innovation strategiesnegotiated with the social partners. Although experiments carried out in someEuropean countries have so far produced few palpable results, and institutionalsupport for their continuation has dwindled (Kovács & Castillo, 1998), their viabilityin Portugal should not be dismissed. To be successful in our country, suchstrategies would have to take the form of social dialogue policies that ensureeffective interconnection between macro-concertation/ dialogue, collectivebargaining and enterprise-level negotiation. Even though, so far, there have onlybeen attempts – not always successful and with scant results – to transposenegotiation of concertation agreements (and collective bargaining) to enterprise 31
  32. 32. Elísio Estanquelevel (Ferreira, 2001), technological innovation policies will, necessarily, mean amore active trade union role in enterprise restructuring processes. Furthermore, in view of Portugal’s low pay levels and the poor educationalresources of most of its workforce, it is just unrealistic to devise productivityboosting schemes and to expect workers to become more motivated and identifiedwith a “company culture”. This reinforces the argument that for the socialdimension to adjust to successful technological innovation programmes it meansfirst implementing a whole range of procedures and policies, in which theparticipation, negotiation and involvement of all the social actors involved in theorganisational life, are vital components. 5 – Conclusion Before outlining the type of organisational model that we believe to be mostsuitable for our enterprises, it is worth pointing out a few more signs of Portugueseworkers’ and consumers’ openness towards new technologies. In a surveyundertaken in 1997, involving Portugal and various other European countries(Cabral et al., 2000), our country revealed very similar attitudes to those in othersin terms of views on the effects of new technologies on employment and workingconditions. Of those interviewed in Portugal, 83% were concerned about jobshedding (as compared to 80% in Spain, 77% in Sweden, 87% in Germany, and74% in Hungary). In response to questions about the effects of new technologieson job content/interest, 71% of the Portuguese thought that new technology wouldmake jobs somewhat or quite a lot more interesting – a much higher percentagethan found in the other countries studied (Spain, 35%; Sweden, 52%; Germany,55%; and Hungary, 54%). The same survey also revealed that farm workers andassembly workers were the occupational categories that regarded the impacts ofnew technologies on jobs most negatively, while students and scientific andtechnical professionals were those who most minimised negative impacts on jobs.Administrative workers were those who most thought that new technologies wouldhave positive impacts on occupational tasks. Amid the pessimism with regardsemployment and a clear optimism about greater job satisfaction, the Portuguese on 32
  33. 33. Elísio Estanquethe whole revealed a relatively open attitude towards the impact of newtechnologies on working conditions (Cabral, et al., 2000: 33-34). While this is an important aspect that reflects Portuguese feelings abouttechnology in relation to employment, the ease with which the individual consumerin Portugal has adapted and taken to new technologies is well known. Intenseinterest in NITs, massive receptiveness to mobiles phones, increasing use of theInternet and digital appliances (TVs, cameras, video cameras, etc.) and clearlyreceptive attitudes towards new and ever-increasing computer artefacts andmeans – from software to hardware – reveal a level of enthusiasm for newtechnologies that would suggest in a fairly technologically advanced country,although, in that respect, Portugal is still lags behind her European partners9. In short, workers and society as a whole do appear relatively willing tointegrate more daring technological innovation projects. However, for such projectsto be successfully implemented, careful attention must be given to all the tensionsand divisions that pervade society and that are reflected in our firms andorganisations. In addition to the crucially important mechanisms for social dialogueand concertation already in place – that, obviously, make even more sense in theframework of the European social model –, even from the organisationalstandpoint, the most suitable models for the Portuguese reality cannot, for thereasons given above, be based on pure individualist logic or on a uniformisingnew-corporativism, along the lines of the so-called American management school –which tends to ignore the conflicts that exist in enterprises –, particularly if we thinkabout the industrial sector. In this respect, the approaches closest to thesocio-political paradigm, developed by various authors of the French school(Crozier & Friedberg, 1977; Crozier, 1989; Bernoux, 1998; Sainsaulieu & Segrestin1987), as well as being more in tune with the anthropocentric system referred toabove, enable better adaptation to suit our country, since organisational culture9 While in mobile phone usage, Portugal is among the leaders in Europe, a relatively recent study showed thatonly around 26% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 regularly use the Internet, in contrast to othercountries, such as Holland where the figure for that age group is 76%. Young people in Portugal are alsotrailing behind the rest of Europe in terms of computers, with only 50% using pcs, while the figure for othercountries (except Greece) is far higher – over 80% (EC commissioned study, presented in Brussels on8.11.01, quoted by RFM). 33
  34. 34. Elísio Estanqueconceived of in this way provides more space for diversity and the conjugation ofsub-cultures and different interests, by proposing a more dynamic vision ofcompany culture, based on informal negotiation mechanisms, and on theexpressivity and initiative of the social actors. In this respect, it is important toensure that conditions for worker involvement in company innovation projects arein place. This means that organisational restructuring initiatives geared toinnovation should contemplate not just training courses and adequate bargainingprocesses – that ensure the needs of the most precarious sectors and hardest toreframe in the modernising dynamic are taken care of –, but a vocational trainingpolicy that is able to conjugate new and “old” skills, i.e. to get the most out of boththe new skills incorporated by new generations of workers and qualifiedprofessionals, and the implicit knowledge, skills and abilities that many workersacquire over the course of their working lives, which is so often underutilised. Whileit may not always be possible to achieve a perfect balance between thecompetitive dynamic and social justice, there are still plenty of opportunities forexpending more consistent efforts to make these two logics more compatible, sincethe first one does not ends in itself and only achieve true meaning if remainingconnected to the second. As someone suggested, in our country there is an imaginary-central-state, i.e.a state that, in spite of being peripheral or semi-peripheral, tends to regard it self asbeing central (Santos, 1993), and which reflects the profoundly contrastingtendencies that have been repeatedly associated with Portuguese culture andsociety. Different intellectuals have referred to “Portuguese man” as having anambivalent mind-set that alternates between an inferiority complex in relation toforeigners and “mythical hypertrophy” that gives rise to megalomaniacal delusions,and thus enables a dynamic and lasting coexistence of pre-modern, modern andpost-modern logics. (Santos, 1994: 60-61). Perhaps this can help us to understandsome of the contradictions that exist in our society and the relationship withtechnological innovation that we have referred to in this text. Portugal seems to encompass an empire of potentialities in terms ofintentions, imagination and capacity for subjective adaptation to new realities and 34
  35. 35. Elísio Estanquesituations. At the same time, however, it continues to reveal tremendous difficultyand incapacity when it comes to realisation. The organisational difficulties inadvancing programmes based on change geared to innovation and endogenisationof new technologies are, therefore, a fundamental problem that needs to betackled. Labour will, unquestionably, continue to be the central focus of developedsocieties in the XXI century, in their efforts to build better patterns of life and socialjustice. In this context, the recognised creativity of the Portuguese, their sense ofsolidarity, and their capacity to adapt to advanced organisational structures –demonstrated by our emigrants in core countries – can become decisive trumpcards in our collective future.Bibliographical ReferencesAlmeida, Filipe (2000), “O impacto humano na nova economia digital”. Faculdade de Economia da Universidade de Coimbra (working paper).Andrieu, Michel (1999), “A better future for Work?”. OCDE Observer, Summer (pp. 53-55).Assunção, Fátima, e Bilhim, João (1998), “Organização, Tecnologia e Actores Sociais”, in APSIOT – VII Encontro Nacional, Formação Trabalho e Tecnologia: para uma nova cultura organizacional. Oeiras: Celta (pp. 25- 38).Barreto, António (org.) (2000), A Situação Social em Portugal 1960-1999. Vol. II. Lisboa: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais/ Instituto de Ciências Sociais.Becattini, Giacomo (1994), “O distrito marshalliano”, in G. Benko & A. Lipietz, G. (orgs.), As Regiões Ganhadoras. Oeiras: Celta.Beck, Ulrich (1992), Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage.Beck, Ulrich (2000), Un Nuevo Mundo Feliz: La Precaridad del Trabajo na La Era da La Globalización. Barcelona: Paidós.Bernoux, Philippe (1998), A Sociologia das Organizações. Porto: RÉS.Boyer, Robert e Hollingsworth, J. Rogers (1997), «From National Embeddeness to Spatial and Institutional Nestedness», in J. Hollingsworth & Robert Boyer (eds.), Contemporary Capitalism – The Embeddedness of Institutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Boyer, Robert et al., (2000), Para Uma Europa da Inovação e do Conhecimento. Oeiras: Celta.Cabral, Manuel Villaverde, Vala, Jorge & Freire, João (orgs.) (2000), Trabalho e Cidadania – Atitudes Sociais dos Portugueses I. Lisboa: ICS/ISSP. 35
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