This case study of Kleer Windows, a firm which manufactures doors and windows for the recreational vehicles industry argues that the influence of the work group can under certain conditions be harnessed by management in their attempts to control workers. Peer control exists when co- workers seek to monitor and influence each others level of productivity. Data were collected during three summers of ethnographic research. A comparison of the control systems utilized in the production, shipping, and receiving departments at Kleer Windows reveals that peer control is likely to stimulate, rather than inhibit, productivity when two conditions exist. First, when workers are motivated to monitor one another through an interdependence of reward - making the rewards of each worker dependent upon the effort and productivity of all co-workers as we11 as the effort of the individual worker (i.e., through the use of a group bonus system) - peer control that stimulates productiuity is increasingly likely to develop. The second condition necessary for peer control is that workers be able to monitor each other through an interdependence of task - organizing work such that each worker is dependent upon co-workers for the successful completion of their work tasks (i.e., serial production) contributes to the establishment of peer control.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sociological Focus, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/00380237.1993.10570623.
Howard, Jay R. 1994. “Peer Control in the Industrial Workplace.” Sociological Focus 26:241-256.