Flexible Work Organisation: Inferences from Britain and Australia

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Against the background of much debate in Australia and New Zealand about micro‐economic reform and award restructuring, this article outlines several critical analyses of fragmented work organisation. From eight types of employment flexibility (summarised in an appendix), it focuses on job flexibility, and argues that employers in an adversarial (Type I) industrial relations context tend to have less job (functional) flexibility but more numerical flexibility than those in a more consensual (Type II) context. Yet there have been recent moves towards greater job flexibility in Australia, Britain and other English‐speaking countries, which can be characterised as having traditionally provided a predominantly adversarial context. Some such moves have been associated with Japanese influences and new styles of industrial awards and agreements. The article includes four propositions which may guide future research. It proposes longitudinal research on job flexibility, using an audit of work organisation. Such an audit could be of benefit to practitioners and to those seeking to explain changing forms of work organisation. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-44
Number of pages17
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Human Resources
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990


  • Britain
  • Australia
  • micro‐economic reform
  • award restructuring
  • work organisation
  • flexibility
  • industrial relations
  • functional flexibility
  • numerical flexibility
  • consensual
  • adversarial
  • Japanese management
  • Workplace change

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