Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Erik Pratt

Second Advisor

Belle Marie Talbert

Third Advisor

Darrell Hagen


Through the evolution of specialization in the automobile industry, production has become much more efficient but it has a major drawback: worker alienation. This thesis will trace the increasing trend of alienation through the evolution of specialization within the automobile industry, including a study of the division of labor, the introduction of the assembly line and its implications for mass production, as well as the recent emergence of lean production. Alienation is expressed in lack of job contentment which leads to increased turnover and absenteeism rates, as well as an increased chance of mental illness. A solution for alienation was found in the implementation of job enrichment; particularly through sociotechnological systems design approaches. To explore effective and ineffective methods of job enrichment, six case studies of automobile manufacturing sites are examined, as well as reasons traditional plants choose not employ these programs.