es of these work organization factors on physical, cognitive, and behavioral functioning, including stress-related conditions and their link to health, safety, and performance. Finally, occupational safety and health personnel must have a basic competence in prevention and organizational intervention strategies and be able to use work organization experts to address workplace stress and well-being issues.
Organization of work or work organization refers to management systems, supervisory practices, and production and service processes and their influence on the way in which work is performed (Sauter et al., 1999). Many if not all of these work organization factors have been shown to affect an organization’s culture (Schneider, 1987; Denison and Mishra, 1995) and attitudes toward training, problem-solving, labor relations, and its safety climate (Zohar, 1980; Hofmann and Stetzer, 1996). No data systems in the United States routinely collect information on work organization factors or the numbers and types of organizations and employees exposed to these factors. Nevertheless, it is clear that the past decade has witnessed major changes in both the organization and the nature of work, and it is anticipated that the magnitude and pace of change will continue in response to global competition, advances in technology, and accelerating accumulation of knowledge (Howard, 1995). This fluidity poses important challenges for occupational health and safety training, skills development, and worker safety. The following developments in work organization are most pronounced in large and midsize firms. However, their impacts are increasingly visible in smaller firms that are linked to larger employers in supply chains and service arrangements.
The accelerated evolution of global trade in the second half of the 20th century has created significant transformations in work organization. Developments in international trade have expanded access to markets, changed the landscape of competition, and increased the mobility of materials, production processes, and investment capital. The creation of a global economy has been facilitated by accords between nations on trade. Of these, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been significant for the United States on a global and a regional basis, respectively. The regulatory regimes of GATT have reduced both traditional barriers to trade (e.g., tariffs and import quotas) and nontraditional barriers to trade (e.g., investment policy, local content requirements, and subsidies to domestic producers). More recently, GATT accords have focused on reducing constraints in the flow of both services and goods (Atkinson, 1998).