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Self-directed work teams in a post-apartheid gold mine: perspectives from the rock face

Опубликовано на портале: 09-01-2003
Journal of Workplace Learning. 2002.  No. 7-7. P. 278-285. 
Increasing international competition requires companies to empower and develop the skills of workers at the lower levels. This paper will show how implementing change from below through self-directed teamwork enhances the understanding of the changing nature of work and the relationship between work and training. The case study of African Gold Mine (a pseudonym of one of the world's deepest gold mines) illustrates the South African gold mining industry's attempt to create a twenty-first century workforce through self-directed work team (SDWT) training conducted within the mine. However, underground participatory research reveals that in the workplace, organisational constraints hinder the effective implementation of SDWT training. In order to cope with these organizational constraints and inefficiencies, workers resort to planisa; "they make a plan". In other words, they "get on and get by" underground through improvising and the team's self-initiated action. This paper argues that planisa is part of the existing occupational culture of miners and is an embryonic form of teamwork. Any strategy to increase the productivity of mineworkers must draw on these experiences.

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