What will this research provide to academia and industry?
Factory workers are missing from the popular theoretical frameworks. It is furthermore clear that current methods for gathering information from factories are inadequate, but there is a lack of consensus on both which framework is most appropriate to measuring and improving the well-being of workers and whether greater well-being will improve their work performance and that of their factory.
This research will therefore endeavour to understand the factors affecting factory workers' well-being through the existing theoretical frameworks of PsyCap, Lean manufacturing and PERMA (a system for measuring aspects of well-being). By bringing the factory workers into the debate I anticipate that we will start to understand the drivers, barriers and enablers to their well-being, and perhaps their consequent effectiveness at work.
My fieldwork has already begun to address this challenge by utilising innovative
new research methods for social investigation to start to learn more about the
factory workers and their priorities. Early research using digital diaries with existing internet applications showed such interesting and revealing results that I am now seeking to take it one step further. Technology will be used to create a new tool specifically to enable us to talk to workers daily and to analyse their input for social research purposes.
The research will be of interest, not only to the academic community, since it unusually considers social sustainability from the perspective of the most-affected stakeholders in a supply-chain, but also to businesses who will potentially be enabled to benefit from their workers' insights daily.
This will be the first research to provide both business and industry with the ability, through technology and a theoretical framework, to talk to workers daily with a view to understanding their well-being and what affects it. It seeks to support both academics and industry
in better understanding:
1. workers' well-being, its drivers, barriers and enablers and the relationship between each of these and work performance at individual and organisational level.
2. how Chinese factories can adapt their management processes to incorporate social-management considerations while improving their workers' well-being and performance.
The hope driving the innovation, rigour and scale of this research is for the first time to truly understand social sustainability in factories, and through that understanding to make it possible to change the lives of those most affected by globalisation and the supply chains it has created.