The role of knowledge transfer in participatory ergonomics: evaluation of a case study at a poultry processing plant

Antle, David M. (2008) The role of knowledge transfer in participatory ergonomics: evaluation of a case study at a poultry processing plant. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Aims: -- This project involved the evaluation of a transfer of a ‘train-the-trainer’ knife sharpening and steeling program (KSP) for butchery operations from Quebec to Newfoundland. The objectives of this study were to evaluate: 1) the factors that impacted upon the transfer of the KSP from a Quebec Research Team (QRT) to the Newfoundland Research Team (NRT) and a poultry plant, 2) to evaluate the impact of the KSP on employee health and productivity and, 3) to attempt to identify the impact that a KT strategy has within a participatory ergonomics (PE) intervention. The Eastern Canadian Consortium on Workplace Health identified the KSP as a successful existing program that could be transferred to Newfoundland and Labrador. It was thought that this program would benefit a St. John's, Newfoundland poultry processing plant. Researchers (ergonomists, engineers and KT specialists), plant management and plant employees constituted a tripartite partnership that would guide the knowledge adaptation, transfer and assimilation. The KSP uses a 'train-the-trainer' approach that identified plant personnel who could acquire the ability to machine-sharpen knives. Following a series of training sessions, the plant trainers were asked, in cooperation with factory management, to proceed with training of plant workers in proper knife steeling and care techniques. The QRT provided the NRT with methods to assess skill development and work behavior changes of a production line cohort. Researchers adapted survey, video and semi-structured interview techniques to assess the intervention. A KT Model (Parent et al., 2007) was employed as a diagnostic tool to evaluate KT capacities. While KT was slow and was not completely successful, the project recognizes that KT capacities within social networks impacted on the KSP intervention. Networks for actor communications, managerial involvement, organizational culture and facilitative ability of the NRT appear to have impacted disseminative and absorptive capacities required for successful KT. The QRT and the trainers displayed active generative capacity, by developing new knowledge regarding the KSP process, and strategies to use in smaller enterprises. The NRT gained experience in applying a PE framework. However, it is clear that additional steps are required for the knowledge gained within the province from the experience to become institutionalized. At the industrial site, the trainer's skills and knowledge have been recognized as exceptional by the QRT and Quebec experts. Some, but not all, employees have adopted the principles of the KSP and demonstrate the potential for reductions in cutting-related musculoskeletal disorders. However, managers at the plant did not taken steps to institutionalize knowledge, suggesting that the continuity of the KSP may be threatened.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 9388
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 90-96)
Department(s): Human Kinetics and Recreation, School of
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador; Canada--Quebec (Province)
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communication in organizations; Human engineering; Knowledge management; Organizational learning; Poultry plants--Employees--Training of--Newfoundland and Labrador; Poultry plants--Employees--Training of--Quebec (Province)

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