The metal sector is a very important productive sector in our socio-economic fabric. It should be taken into account that throughout the whole history, it has been one of the key sectors for economic development. Due to the changes that took place inside the metal sector and also the demands of the market, the current reality of the sector is a new one, totally different from previous times which also represents new challenges. Big companies of the metal sector, which are the axis of the development of the sector and also of the general economic advancement, they have started to disappear or significantly decrease their employment rate.
Nowadays, the SMEs are the driving force of the metal sector. Technological innovation, productive restructuring processes and the incentives of the commercialisation processes are the three main pillars of the development of the metal sector SMEs.
The implementation of new technology has been the main focus of the metal sector above all, during the industrial reconversion years. Since the first moment, due to their financial weaknesses, SMEs have faced broad difficulties in order to implement technological innovations. However, a significant number of SMEs did not have another choice, as an important part of the subsectors were competing in economies of scale.
However, during last years, the sector has experienced a change in its management system; from professional relations based on hierarchies and power, to relationships based on freedom and responsibility, where all the people involved need to take their own decisions. It is in fact in the implementation of a cooperative culture among companies what has enabled the creation of new networks and collaboration sites where companies are increasingly participating, together with the digitalisation of the productive processes what drives the change.
These networks have taken different shapes: business associations, sectorial organizations, clusters, forums… In these networks’ companies exchange professional experiences, which become a source of knowledge and informal learning and they started to change completely the model of traditional professional relations.
For a traditional sector such as the metal one, to undertake and put into practice a cooperative culture is one challenge companies just cannot ignore and left aside. It is about transferring the associative culture to the business structure, with the final objective of letting the companies to gather and collaborate among them in terms of innovation and creation of knowledge.
The implementation of a new model of professional relationships based on shared and participatory management principles implies changes in all the spheres of the company. In this unit we will analyse the influence of this shared and participatory management system in the worker, the new role workers adopt and how it affects to different spheres and relationships inside the company.