The Industrial Monopoly (French Tobacco firm SEITA)

The Industrial Monopoly  is the SOA typical case. It studies a french tobacco firm, the SEITA, who holds the state monopoly of Tobacco production, in the 1960s. The original Crozier’s study can be found on Google books (p.61) .

This study focuses on factories -called manufactures-, where the tobacco is processed. All the factories are organized according to the same patterns, and all the workshops feature the same troubles.

Each workshop brings together one foreman, about 100 production workers and 6 to 8 maintenance workers. The workshop foreman acts as supervisor: he handles accounting of the production of the workshop and of each production worker, supplies and uses of raw materials and so on. He oversees the operation of the workshop and decides for redeployment of production workers when there is a vacancy, most often because a machine is out of order. Production workers (between 60 and 120 in a workshop) are mostly women, low skilled and are under the command of the workshop foreman. Maintenance workers are highly skilled workers, they depend on a technical engineer who is not part of the workshop, and each worker is responsible for three manufacturing machines whose he is in charge of setup and maintenance. The organization of the workshop and the allocation of jobs to production workers are governed by very clear and impersonal rules: everyone knows what to do and how, nothing is left to the discretion of individuals. A detailed field study showed, in the workshops of the 30 plants of the company, the same type of dysfunctional relationships between the three categories of people, which can be summarized as follows. Between the foreman and production workers, there are very few relationships and these relationships are quite good, even though (or because) production workers do not recognize to the foreman his status as head. Between production workers and maintenance workers, relationships are conflictive but not expressed openly: the production workers accuse the maintenance workers not to make the necessary to repair the machines quickly, but they are rather submitted. The maintenance workers regard production workers as their subordinates and allow themselves to interfere in their work; they feel that the production workers are negligent and do not work enough. Between maintenance workers and the foreman, relationships are openly hostile; maintenance workers criticize the competence of the workshop foreman quite aggressively and they deny any importance to him; the foremen are more embarrassed in their criticisms of maintenance workers, although they abuse their power over the maintenance of machines.

case Seita.