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ORganisational BEhaviour with new TEChnologies: a human resources management model for industry 4.0

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ORBETEC (ORganisational BEhaviour with new TEChnologies: a human resources management model for industry 4.0)

Reporting period: 2018-09-17 to 2020-09-16

The world of work is changing, and jobs or organizations will never be the same again. All the industry sectors are concerned by the 4th actual technological revolution named as “industry 4.0”. The interaction between interconnected devices, artificial intelligences, machine learning, and workers, create new ways of doing business.

The change and innovation related to the industry 4.0 was already affecting work as much as well as family life. European organizations need to identify best practices in human resource (HR) management adapted to digitization. It should be possible to benefit industry from the positive changes associated with this 4th revolution, and to prevent its negative changes.

In this sense, “ORganisational BEhaviour with new TEChnologies: a human resources management model for industry” 4.0 (ORBETEC), aimed to create an HR model adapted to the reality of industry 4.0. Indeed, individuals remain the main actors of Industry 4.0 although technological and technical aspects are part of its driving forces. ORBETEC (Figure 1) has studied organizational behavior generated within evolving and highly innovative organizations. The project aimed to determine the best HR practices applied to Industry 4.0 providing the essential keys for mankind to evolve in this emerging context. The development of the best organizational and managerial strategies for Industry 4.0 would improve performance, strengthen the organizational well-being of all parties involved in the innovation process, and ensure the growth and sustainability of the organization.
The period covered by the final report (24 month) encompasses 3 Work Packages (WP). The whole research was carried out in UMBRAGROUP's headquarters (Figure 2).

WP1 - Mapping of UMBRAGROUP S.p.A.
Three main axes have been investigated in WP1: Analysis of HRM practices and policies used in the seven years prior to the start of the project; research on the climate and organizational culture existing at the beginning of the project; extraction of the main organizational behaviors specific to individuals, teams, and the organization, existing and/or to be developed. Some interviews were conducted with key players in the organization (sector managers, HR department, operators). An analysis of the company's history also allowed the nature of the culture and organizational climate to emerge. The mapping of UMBRAGROUP's organizational situation via a systemic approach allowed to identify past HR practices (e.g. information sharing, rewarding, learning) and organizational behaviors (e.g. innovation, proactivity, existing and needed skills) useful to industry 4.0. An internal report linked to the results was presented to HR department and CEOs. The results fit to UMBRAGROUP FIRST values’: Focus on customer, Innovation, Respect, Social responsibility, and Teamwork.

WP2 - Analysis of 4.0 HRM model principal variables
WP2 examined a context of change and innovation towards Industry 4.0; through the analysis of 3-times data collection to identify the most significant organizational behaviors in terms of brakes, levers, and generators; the evolution of the organization (structure, norms and rules, organizational culture and climate, values, etc.); and effects on work design, quality of work life and performance. Three main areas were studied (Figure 3): the organization (perception of the organization and work, type of leadership and relationship system), the team (team’s perception, behavior and relationship system) and the individual (skills, proactive behaviors, technological appropriation and quality of life). The results showed that the HR management and development practices for change and innovation developed through ORBETEC have made it possible to increase and maintain the factors of quality of life and performance qt individual, team and organizational levels; without degrading the perception of the organization. Three reports were presented to the organization. Some results were also presented on the project website via videos and short posts. One article was published on workplace learning. The results were also disseminated at several international congresses (e.g. EAWOP, AIPTLF, ICP).

WP3 - Development, integration, and analysis of the HRM model
WP3 examined employee profiles of Industry 4.0 and defined a systemic UMBRAGROUP’ strategic actions plan. The development of the HR model should have been tested through a pilot phase on selected teams (the most representative) in WP3, but the economic and health crisis did not allow of the pretesting of the HR management model. That’s why, we used the results of WP2 and focused on organizational learning developing the acquisition of leadership practices (e.g. strategic, enabling, ethical), the climate of voice, as well as knowledge, competencies, skills, and opportunities related to proactivity and innovation. The practices and policies developed were aimed at promoting an organic managerial approach, with little organizational formalization, horizontal management, information and knowledge sharing, and a high degree of employee professionalization. Digitization helped employees to develop higher levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and thus to create innovation rather than improve routine. The model is improving thanks to the close collaboration between UMBRAGROUP, the University of Florence and the University of Bordeaux (Figure 4). We presented our model at Brussels during a workshop the July 4th, at a session we organized at ESOF 2020 on September 5th, 2020, in Trieste (Figure 5), and at Cap Science Bordeaux, on November 27th, 2020, for the European Research Nights. Even though the pandemic aborted several dissemination activities, we were able to share our progress via social networks, Unifi Magazine, and Confindustria Umbria website.
ORBETEC has contributed to the development of knowledge on the psychosocial factors of individuals, at the basis of organizational behaviors, which promote or inhibit innovation and performance of high-tech organizations. It was also one of the few research projects to explore issues related to Industry 4.0 in the field of organizational behavior. In terms of methodology, the project used new methodological practices and statistical analyses.

ORBETEC has enabled the fellowship researcher to develop his knowledge, skills, abilities, and to create career opportunities. The access to the organizational world allowed him to go beyond his initial discipline, the psychology of work and organizations, and to open to management, valorization, and development of HR. The learning and training processes enabled the researcher be hired as Associate Professor at the University of Bordeaux two months after the end of ORBETEC.

ORBETEC should contribute to the definition of an international HR model. The global pandemic context was also an opportunity to study the processes of interaction between workers via digitalization in a telework situation. This allowed to highlight keys for organizational management in health crisis situations. Finally, ORBETEC has contributed to demonstrate the effectiveness of a model of research/enterprise cooperation based on active participation in the partnership relationship. ORBETEC’s practices and policies will play an essential role for the performance and sustainability of companies specialized in the industrial, aeronautic, and aerospace sectors.