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mental thought process" (p. 71). A worker in Zuboff's study described the implications of this change and its link to the cognitive dimension of work (Zuboff, 1989:73–74):
Before computers, we didn't have to think as much, just react. You just knew what to do because it was physically there. Now, the most important thing to learn is to think before you do something, to think about what you are planning to do. You have to know which variables are the most critical and therefore what to be most cautious about, what to spend time thinking about before you take action.
The implication of these changes is that information technology changes the mix of skills that are required. "Informated" jobs require less sensory (touch, smell) and less physical skill, and more of what Zuboff labels "intellective skills," such as abstract reasoning, inference, cause-effect analysis, and trust in symbols.
Another important lesson from efforts to introduce advanced technology into work settings has been the need to integrate technology and organizational practices. Shimada and MacDuffie (1987) described the differences between American engineering practices and those found in Japanese auto plants operating in the United States. They observed that U.S. engineers tended to see technology as a standalone technical solution, with work system design considerations to be addressed in the implementation phase of the design and decision-making process. In contrast, Japanese engineers tend to see the hardware or technical features of the work process as inseparable from the human dimensions of the work process.
The differences in effect were brought home vividly in the auto industry in the 1980s by experience of General Motors (GM). In the early 1980s, GM embarked on a major high-technology strategy designed to regain its competitiveness by introducing the most advanced automated technologies available. Over the first half of the 1980s, GM invested over $50 billion in pursuit of this objective, only to find at the end of the investment cycle that it still had the highest-cost manufacturing operations in the industry. The company concluded that it had failed to adequately integrate human resource and work organization considerations with the new technology and subsequently began to revamp its approach to introducing technology.