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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10791/463

Authors: Chitwood, Ian James
Supervisor(s): Dr. Hussein Al-Zyoud (Athabasca University) Dr. Patricia Genoe McLaren (Wilfred Laurier University)
Examining Committee: Dr. Oli Mihalache (Athabasca University)
Dr. Shamel Addas (Queen's University)
Degree: Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Department: Faculty of Business
Keywords: Critical realism
Lean manufacturing
Industry 4.0
Subjective experience
Critical analysis
Issue Date: 30-Apr-2024
Abstract: With the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, manufacturing companies in Canada, and elsewhere, have begun investing in a variety of advanced technologies to improve various organizational outcomes, such as improved efficiency, reduced costs, the maximization of output, and to facilitate flexibility in their operations. These technologies, which include the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-physical systems, data analytics and augmented reality, among others, have a discernable impact on employees. There is limited research on, and a limited focus on, the extent to which these advanced technologies benefit employees. Proponents of Industry 4.0 make several claims to that effect, which are tested. This dissertation uses a mixed-method, multiple case study approach to explore five different claims regarding Industry 4.0 technologies in a manufacturing context: (1) they enhance employee autonomy; (2) they improve training; (3) they improve productivity; (4) they enhance job control; and (5) they improve safety. The role that a formal lean manufacturing program plays regarding the claims is also explored. The study relies on an employee survey to generate quantitative data, and semi-structured employee interviews to generate qualitative data. A critical realist perspective is adopted. Situating the study within a critical realist framework facilitated an analysis of structures, agents, events, actions, and context to identify and explicate the causal mechanisms that inform empirical outcomes and identify emergent themes. The study finds that, through the exploration of three cases, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies contributes to increased Employee Autonomy (EA), Employee Productivity (EP), Job Control (JC) and Safety Awareness (SA). The study does not support the claim that the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies contributes to increased Training Effectiveness (TE). An examination of semi-structured interviews revealed several common themes. The study finds that employees generally benefit from newly adopted technologies and enjoy a commensurate benefit with respect to an increased level of satisfaction with their work. Employees in organizations that have a formal lean manufacturing program tend to experience higher levels of satisfaction, due to its moderating role. Overall, the subjective experiences of employees support four of five of the positivist claims made in manufacturing.
Graduation Date: Jun-2024
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10791/463
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