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From industrial to postindustrial work: core determinants and contradictions in work behavior of Russian employees

Priority areas of development: sociology
Department: Centre for Social Organization Research of Labour and Business
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Целью настоящего исследовательского проекта является выявление основных форм взаимодействия содержания труда и социальной организации труда на основе анализа основных типов трудового поведения российских работников различных отраслей и регионов.

Goal of research

The aim of current research project is to identify the main forms of interaction between the content of job and social organization of labor through analysis of the main types of organizational behavior of Russian workers in conditions of various industries, regions and professional groups.

The objectives of the project were to develop theoretical model and typology of work activity in the context of industrial and postindustrial jobs, to identify industry and regional features and characteristics of social organization of labor activity as determinants of individual behavior of Russian workers.


The notion of the postindustrial conditions of employment as opposed to industrial was set as a basic and key concept of the empirical study. Thus, the object of research was employees from those professional groups that were identified as potential postindustrial jobs. Their working conditions, daily individual and collective practices, motivational and value bases of work were also under consideration since social organization of labor was included as a core concept for social conditions of postindustrial jobs.

The questionnaire developed made it possible to conduct a quantitative study and to assess the degree of development of postindustrial features in the studied industries and professional groups. Scales and items that were included in the survey instruments were selected basing on international studies and our own previous research projects.

Empirical base of research

The empirical database consists of data obtained as a result of standardized workplace interviews with specialists of Russian enterprises. A total of 1110 employees were interviewed. Data collection was carried out in September-November 2018.

The respondents were selected according to the criteria: employees job positions of professionals with completed higher education and being engaged in the definite groups of professional occupations (Specialist in the field of technology, Engineers, Specialists in financial activities, Specialists in the field of administration, Specialists in sales and marketing of products and services or public relations, Specialists in information and communication technologies). These professional categories were selected as potentially reflecting the jobs with a postindustrial character of labor. Quotas for sampling were determined taking into account the number of employees in these occupational groups, taking into account residence in all major regions of the country, as well as representing 10 key industry sectors of the Russian economy. The sample covers 8 large districts and 10 industry groups.

At the stage of data analysis, the methods of dispersion and correlation analysis were used. Typology of work practices was carried out using factor and cluster analysis. To assess the factors of formation of the basic models of behavior and attitudes of workers, the procedures for constructing regression models were used.

Results of research

The results showed the presence of subsequent contradictions between the "traditional" and "modern" elements of work activity. Particular attention was paid to the interaction of the changing content of work caused by new technologies pressure, and elements of social organization of labor activity of "industrial" and "traditionalist" type.

It was revealed a noticeable gap of specialists engaged in the main industries in the development and use of complex types of digital technologies. Basing on the use and intensity of different digital technologies the working processes were classified into three types: 1) "traditional" that is typical for the manufacturing industry; 2) "transitional" as dominant in real estate transactions, utilities and other services; and 3) "modern" which is prevailing in IT-companies.

The data gave arguments of definite priority of materialistic values and motives among specialists in the sphere of working activity. Considering this general context, the structure of work values of IT specialists has been described with high degree of individualistic orientations and recognition of the importance of professional development.

It was revealed that the main changes in work of specialists of Russian business organizations were associated with an increase in the volume and intensity of work, work tension, level of responsibility combined with weak changes in the content of work, creative, material and financial aspects of work. Significant positive changes associated with the growth of wages, independence, job promotions, meaningful enrichment of work were observed only in the sub-sample of IT-workers.

The extremely low motivation and activity of specialists of Russian companies in the field of vocational training, professional development, self-education strongly contradicts the "challenges" of modern trends in the labor market.

It was found that new technologies contribute to the modernization of social relations on the workplaces only in moderate degree slightly increasing the significance of meritocratic norms and practices. It was concluded that the new elements of labor organization associated with the development of new technologies do not reject ascriptive model of labor relations, but rather are embedded in it. Examples of such "embedding" are the elements of work organization associated with high level of autonomy and independency in work, continuous learning, and high relevance of social and network resources of workers.

The high significance of the power distance as individual disposition of employee facilitates adaptation and success in authoritarian social environment. Data showed a contradictory role of protectionism and informal relations between managers and subordinates: managerial protectionism and informal relationships provide access to more prestigious and better-paid jobs and organizational resources for employees, but at the same time also associate with managers abusing behavior.

Also, the contradictory role of the necessity in continuous training for the work execution was showed. Constant learning is a key characteristic of "postindustrial" work, it contributes to the satisfaction of "motivational and achievable" aspects of work and higher involvement of specialists. However, the dark side of this intention to meet challenges of new knowledge and technology is higher level of stress and burnout of employees.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

The results of this study make a significant contribution to the understanding of the interaction of elements of social organization of labor of "industrial" and "postindustrial" type. This understanding of the basic mechanisms of such interaction can find practical application in the development of motivational and training programs for employees in various fields of professional activity, in improving the effectiveness of measures for the selection, adaptation, development and retention of employees.

The results are useful for those who develop any program of technological changes by considering the role of social organization of labor both on the level of a particular company or on the level of industrial changes.


Saari T., Sippola M., Melin H., Efendiev A., Balabanova E. S. Comparing Finnish and Russian Work Life // Мир России: Социология, этнология. 2018. Vol. 27. No. 2. P. 90-108. doi