Apr 18, 2008

"The Real Story": Blogs as a Mechanism for Employee Voice

A couple of days ago I stumbled across the citation to a new paper written about my 2004 LANL blog. I contacted the author, Mary Meares, of Washington State University and asked for a copy of the paper, which she sent.

Here's the citation:
Meares, M. M. and Islam-Zwart, K. "The Real Story”: Blogs as a Mechanism for Employee Voice" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany Online Retrieved 2008-04-11 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p92355_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript

Abstract: The purpose of the current paper is to explore the role of blogs as a mechanism for expression of employee concerns in a time of conflict and, using structuration theory (Giddens, 1984), to examine the ways in which bloggers can influence organizational structures. A qualitative analysis of messages posted on a community blog (LANL: The Real Story) identified ways in which the blog was used both to express opinions related to past events (remedial voice) and give input on future actions (preventive voice). In addition, the study identified four values communicated in the blog (justice, honesty, courage, and science), as well as the ways that these values were used to challenge the legitimacy of the organizational authorities and contest distanciation.
Prof. Meares is preparing a revised edition that will be published in Management Communication Quarterly soon, so she cannot make the paper generally available for download. However, she indicated that interested parties can contact her directly to request a copy. Prof. Meares' email address is mmmeares@wsu.edu

The summary part of the paper was particularly interesting:
Practical Implications

The use of this new technology as a mechanism for remedial voice also has practical implications for employees and organizational authorities. From the employees' perspective, this study may provide an example for how employee concerns can become part of the organizational discourse. We hope it will encourage employees to look for opportunities to express their frustration as well as their constructive ideas for their organizations. Rather than ceding the responsibility for providing mechanisms for voice to the organizational authorities as if they are the only ones who can initiate contact, this study illustrates the ways in which employees have agency and the ability to influence the structures in their organizations.

For managers and other authorities in organizations, the current study emphasizes the need to provide employees with real opportunities for constructive voice (preventive and remedial) in order to prevent challenges to the legitimacy of the organizational authorities. This organization provides an example of how the legitimacy of individuals can be challenged through the construction of normative rules outside the control of the organizational power structures. Dialogue between organization members at different levels needs to take place in order to build collective, rather than polarized, structures of signification. In order to have dialogue, managers need to need to listen to employees sincerely without causing them to fear sanctions and must also be willing to take remedial action when managers do not live up to the expectations for legitimation.

It makes me wonder if this blog will some day be considered to have had social merit.

--Doug Roberts
LANL, Retired 2005

Doug and Mary, thank you for allowing me to share this with the blog readers! -Frank


Anonymous said...

It´s already 1 step beyond LANL: The Real Story.

The 2nd largest Defense Contractor in the World, Boeing, created its own blog to fight the $35 billion air-refueling tanker contract that Boeing lost to Northrop Grumman/EADS of selection by USAF in late February, 2008. Boeing later (March 11, 2008) filed a formal protest to GAO.

The blog:


(LANL: The Real Story did win against Pete Nanos, lost against Mike Anastasio and LANS, LLC as of April 19, 2008.)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Mike doesn't seem to care what the workforce thinks or feels otherwise he would have done something about the corrupt/illegal practices of his science ADs.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that anybody in the DOE or at the LANL DD level or above
gives a damn about what LANL employees think.

Anonymous said...

4:39 pm: "I don't think that anybody in the DOE or at the LANL DD level or above
gives a damn about what LANL employees think."

Well, welcome to the world. Did you just wake up to this or have you been deluding yourself up to now? Jeez...

Anonymous said...

Doug's blog was responsible for getting rid of Nanos. It's where we all read about Brad Lee Holian's safety analysis and how Nanos was full of shit.

Frank's blog is responsible for alerting Congress to the problem of privitizing the Labs and the dishonesty in LANS management.

Blogs can work.

Thanks Doug. Thanks Frank.

Anonymous said...

You said it 2:34. ADCLES pulls off one cunning stunt after another!

Anonymous said...

Listen to the audio from last week's Congressional Appropriations meeting with the lab Directors and you'll hear some very interesting stuff, especially during the second half of the meeting.

It's clear that the Senators were shocked at the costs of the new LLCs. This is what happens when you let corporate Greed Heads like Bechtel take over a national lab.

Senators shouldn't be surprise that it now costs more for less work, is killing lab science, and is causing a loss of jobs (plus, creating some very angry voters).

Anonymous said...

Let's be absolutely clear about one thing. Mike and his PADs don't give a rat's ass about low morale and how the employees feels about their upper management.

If I was NNSA, I wouldn't have given LANS a 35% score for "managerial effectivness". They deserve a big, fat zero! They've flunked out.

Anonymous said...

The sheep appear to be sleeping soundly at LANL. But wait, is that electric shears I hear humming in the background? Oh, never mind. Go back to sleep.

Anonymous said...

12:24 PM - it is not just ADCLES, my AD Susie tells everyone that we have no money and then "finds" the funds to buy new paint, carpeting and brand spanking new office furniture for her husband Chris Morris. Nobody else in P-division gets these kind of favors. In fact, we are merging groups to save money - I guess Susie needs a bigger office brigade or Chris needs a new piece of equipment or something...

Anonymous said...

An editorial in the Contra Costa Times today about how the corporate management of Livermore isn't working. The same can be said about LANS. Livermore claims $280M in additional annual costs related to LLNS, how is it possible that LANS "only" costs $175M. Has LANS been lying to us again?

Congress, are you listening?


Livermore lab job losses a blow to area economy

The corporate management of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, which began Oct. 1, is not working. For the third time this year, the staff is being reduced to the point that the future of the lab is in jeopardy.

In May, the new lab management contract for a consortium of private businesses led by the University of California and Bechtel Corp. was announced amid much optimism.

Lab director George Miller predicted a smooth transition. He said new efficiencies, attrition and other changes would save enough revenue to prevent layoffs.

He was dead wrong. Slightly more than a month after the consortium took the helm of the lab, it announced 500 layoffs of temporary and support employees, which took place in January.

In March, 215 permanent employees took buyouts. Others retired or left and were not replaced. In fact, 900 employees, most of them highly skilled, have left the lab this year. But it still isn't enough, according to Miller.

The latest announcement of staff reductions was made Tuesday. As many as 535 more employees could be cut. This time the layoffs would be involuntary and would affect permanent career employees.

What went wrong with predictions of no layoffs? The most benign answer is that the consortium simply underestimated the increased costs associated with corporate management.

Originally, the corporation formed by UC, Bechtel and several other companies to run the lab expected about $80 million in increased costs. The actual cost increase is $280 million. So much for efficiency or accuracy in financial projections.

Most of the additional costs — $200 million — is the result of the lab's loss of the tax-exempt status it had under UC management.

The yearly management fee was increased from $8 million to $46 million. Also, retirement and health benefit costs have been higher than estimated.

We are a bit skeptical that a supposedly skilled management team could be unintentionally so far off in estimating increased costs, especially considering the size of the cost of losing tax exemptions. It is also suspicious that so many staff reductions have come so quickly.

We were supportive of the management changes in the wake of security lapses and financial errors at the Livermore and Los Alamos labs, which were run solely by UC.

However, with such rapid shrinkage of the Livermore lab's staff, we now have cause to think the federal government made a mistake in seeking bids for new management instead of pushing for changes within UC's managers.

The loss of so many skilled employees at the Livermore lab reduces its productivity and makes it a less desirable place to work.

Lack of job security at a financially troubled facility is likely to make it far more difficult to attract the top talent that has been the foundation of the lab's success over the years.

Making matters worse, the federal government has been less than generous in funding the lab in the past few years.

With diminished funding, higher than forecast costs and a declining work force, the Livermore lab faces an uncertain future that could be a painful loss for the East Bay economy.

Anonymous said...

With diminished funding, higher than forecast costs and a declining work force, the Livermore lab faces an uncertain future that could be a painful loss for the East Bay economy.

Yeah asshole...buck it up a little bit. The effect is Northern NM is much more severe. How about all of the people who cannot sell their houses because the bottom has fallen out of the market, or are on the verge of bancruptcy. Inlike in Livermore, there are NO other options. How about getting a sense of scope and a little respect for those im a much worse position?

Anonymous said...

And inlike in Livermore, we have nothing else to do on a weeknight but drink heavily.

Yo jerkoff, how about YOU getting a sense of scope and some respect for those im a worse financial position that you? (Like almost everyone on earth.)

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side. Those incoming Bechtel Buddy managers that LANS/Bechtel is so hot to hire will be buying up some of the Los Alamos homes on the market if they are priced right.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to get off subject of the corrupt ADs but I'm currently sitting in ADSMS and was told my group manager that we cannot hire anyone because my AD is managing by total number of "head counts" in his directorate. Reason being, the lab is expecting a 20% overall budget cut for FY09. Anyone else heard this? Scary, considering ADSMS resides in the defense program "pits" side of the house.

Anonymous said...

So can we just say "Thanks, Doug!" It is a periodic event. Hopefully the period will lengthen.

Doug, I think your 15 min clock reads about 32.7 min.

Holian is bound to pop up again any moment now.

Anonymous said...

I've heard nothing of a 20% budget cut for FY09. Last I heard, the budget would be flat for FY09.

Of course, LANS could have plans on bleeding off 20% of the incoming funds in FY09 for their corporate partners. LANS could also be hiding information regarding the true costs of the LLC management. We now know that the costs at LLNL are much higher than initially forecast. Perhaps a similar LLC "inflation" factor is also at work at LANL?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... could that comment be racial bised? Methinks so.

Let's trade for a month, yeah I'll go the land of opportunity, and you can come to the land of nada and manana. Better off financially? Who is going to buy a house in LA???

Anonymous said...

What's your problem, 7:17? Did Roberts once reject one of your posts on his LANL, The Real Story Blog? Poor baby!

Or are you just jealous that he and Holian got credit for standing up to the corrupt management at LANL while the best you could muster was to quietly blended in with the rest of the flock?

I do know that anybody who takes anonymous pot shots at those two guys for what they did is a coward.

Anonymous said...

Doug Roberts efforts back in 2005 were heroic. Unfortunately, heroes who take on LANL management typically get worn down and eventually leave in disgust. That's why so few are left (if any).

Look around at the current work force who come streaming out of the NSSB every afternoon at day's end. See many heroes in this bunch? Many of those who are left at LANL are recent hires who just want to make a decent paycheck and keep under the radar of management. Given the circumstances with LANS, I can't really blame them.

Anonymous said...

4/22 11:07 pm: "Hmmmm... could that comment be racial bise?...you can come to the land of nada and manana"

Wow, "kettle and black" kinda thing going on here, huh? Would you like to explain why your latter comments are not "racial bise" (whatever that is - learn to spell)?

Anonymous said...

>Roberts once reject one of your >posts on his LANL, The Real Story >Blog? Poor baby!

No, not at all. I'm just tired of having it brought up periodically. It's over. Move on.

Anonymous said...

Just shut em both down. Livermore and Los alamso are full of cry babies. Step into the real world.....oh wait....

Anonymous said...

"Just shut em both down. Livermore and Los alamso are full of cry babies. Step into the real world.....oh wait....

4/23/08 11:18 PM"

In the real world someone as worthless as Mechels would have been fired alot sooner than he was.

Anonymous said...

In the real world someone as worthless as Mechels would have been fired alot sooner than he was.

4/24/08 9:31 AM

Mechels failed out of LANL - he never stood a chance in the real world.

Wallace doesn't either. I can also think of others on the Directors staff that are only there because no one could stand them ithe last position. I bet staff could be reduced by 50% and the lab could be more productive.

Anonymous said...

but think of all the "double dippers" that Mechels won't get to complain about.
How will he fill his days?? He might have to get a job...

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is Mechels couldn't even make it as a dog turd collector

Anonymous said...

Wallace doesn't either. I can also think of others on the Directors staff that are only there because no one could stand them ithe last position. I bet staff could be reduced by 50% and the lab could be more productive.

4/24/08 8:02 PM"

Look Wallace does have scientific credibility. It is just a fact and yes he could get a nice job elsewhere. For you to make these claims only indicates that you are really clueless about science.

You seem to have some real problem with Wallace but you never state what he did that is so bad. If he has done something I simply have not seen it. I suspect that your motivation is personal and not professional. Perhaps you think that you been slighted in some way.
In any case I see no reason to think Wallace is not quilified for his position.

Anonymous said...

The poor grammar and spelling of the Wallace supporter in post 10:12 PM is a hoot!

To put it bluntly, Terry Wallace does not inspire confidence in many of those who work under him. He was one of the employees who worked on the LANS RFP proposal and his mom, Jeannette Wallace, is the State Senator for LANL's district. If he didn't have these two critical items on his resume, I suspect he would not be LANL's first choice for PAD of science and technology. It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, marginal English accompanied by "you must not know anything about science" taunts (as in 4/24/08 10:12 PM) are a recurring motif from one of our frequent posters.

Anyway the point is not that TW "did something bad." The point is his ongoing failure to do anything useful or productive to promote, enhance or even defend the status quo of LANL as a science laboratory.

Anonymous said...

4/20/08 12:24 PM:

Spoonerism intended?

Anonymous said...

10:12 wrote "Look Wallace does have scientific credibility. It is just a fact and yes he could get a nice job elsewhere."

Yeah, he is a former museum curator and his momma got him his current job. If someone else wants the fat useless terd then please take him!

Anonymous said...

Spoonerism intended?

What is a spoonerism? Oh!

Wow, you have a dirty mind! I never meant that!


Anonymous said...


"How about all of the people who cannot sell their houses because the bottom has fallen out of the market..."

What about them? They can sell their houses, they just need to lower the price - or do they think RE only goes up in price?

Far too risky to consider buying a house at current prices.

Anonymous said...

The latest newsletter I got from a local Los Alamos RE agent has data indicating that sells are starting to increase as of March. My guess is the sells are coming from all the Bechtel engineers and managers that LANS is bringing into town. I know of several homes that sold recently, and in most cases it was a new hire from Bechtel that bought the home.

If you price your home right, you may have a chance to sell it to one of these Bechtel transplants.

Since they are new to this town and know little of its history, these people seem to be less concerned about the future of real estate in Los Alamos. They probably love the small, mountain town feel of the place and want to buy into what they perceive as the Los Alamos lifestyle. Some of them may see LANL as their last stop in their Bechtel career and they plan on retiring here.

Anonymous said...


4/26/08 12:12 AM

Hey asshole, you are right. They can lower the price of their houses. I lost over $50 on the sale of my house, so your nonchelant attitude can only make me say - go fuck yourseolf you arrogant asshole

Anonymous said...

You knew the risk when you bought your house. Suck it up.

Anonymous said...

4/27/08 2:43 PM:

Go have another beer. (That's what I'm doing.) Then stop being a baby. Life contains risk-- deal with it.

I've lost far more than $50K on shitty investments. One of the downsides of being rich.

Anonymous said...

2:43 pm: " I lost over $50 on the sale of my house"

Sometimes, carelessness in your typing and lack of proofreading can really hurt your argument.

Anonymous said...

4/27/08 6:17 PM

Yeah, my first job out of college, my first house. I have left los alamos, and i am skating inches above bankrupcy. not everyone is rich. go drink your beer. i cannot afford it

Anonymous said...

4/27/08 6:17 PM

I came to Los alamos believing in Nation Service and all of that yada yada yada.

So, if people like you would take your own advice it would not be this bad. I'll never be back, and I tell everyone I know - do not get invlolved. You are better off, anywhere else.

So why do you not take your own advice and stand up to what is going on? If you were a true person of character and took your own advice, this would have never happened.

Anonymous said...

I miss spelled, oh christ, the grammar nazi os a gonna be on my ass again......

Anonymous said...

"Miss spelled"?? Actually, the intelligence nazi should be on your ass. Or maybe, the sober nazi.

Anonymous said...

10:17 pm: " came to Los alamos believing in Nation Service and all of that yada yada yada."

So the fact that you overextended your finances and got caught means that your previous belief in "Nation Service" is now just "yada yada yada"?? I guess your previous belief wasn't really serious, or even real. Good riddance. Have a nice life.

Anonymous said...

I used "miss spelled" on purpose. Simpletons. not seeing the cart for the horse.

I did not overextend myself financially. I moved to Los
Alamos straight of college with an eye on my first job being in "National Service" You, the "established scientists" are the biggest bunch of sissies I have ever seen.

You are drining. I am not. I am, in fact, baiting the simpletons, and the fishin is good.

So the difference is I came to LA out of college to advabce my career and to raise my children.

Maybe you arrogant fucks habd not problem in being such a pussy, but I have a family and responsibilty. I will take my loss and move on.

I lost. To the beer drinker - get help

Anonymous said...

You have children? That is scary, to think idiots like you are reproducing.

Anonymous said...

4/27 11:45 pm: Geez, man, use a spell checker. At least, stop typing long enough to see what you've typed. No one who is not drunk or in the grip of incredible rage makes that many mistakes, and doesn't even care. Eithr way, you are the one who needs help. Please don't hit your wife or kids tonight.

Anonymous said...

4/28/08 8:24 AM

Very mature. You do fit in.

4/28/08 8:22 PM

Again, you sound like quite the mature adult.

Kudos to both, and your developed maturities!

Anonymous said...

4/28/08 10:19 PM:

Lighten up. Nobody takes the comments on this blog seriously. Anyone can claim anything, no matter how absurd. Remember the RC-1 germanium incident? People wrote in, pretending to work in the facility and cried about how worried they were. Yet as we all know now, the whole story was bullshit. Didn't you learn anything from that?

On the internet nobody knows you are a dog.

Anonymous said...

Very true. It is saddening to see how quickly people are to personally attack and accuse someone.I guess maybe that since they are anonymous people really let their true character show through. That is even more depressing, because that character being shown is quite poor and underdeveloped.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me? RC-1 had health physics people swarming all over it for four days; several individuals had nasal swipes taken and whole body counts; a large adjacent COLD lab was shut down to survey for contamination; and residents had the audacity to question what they'd been exposed to and what risk might remain?

And then AFTER management knew their asses were covered and that no actual uptake had occurred, a "nothing to see here" story was released?

In what way is the story bullshit?

And how is it that people on this blog claim credit for outing the Sigma Am contamination incident, and yet cry hoax when similar questions are raised during early stages of an apparent germanium contamination event at another facility?

The hypocrisy is mind boggling.

Neko said...

Blogs are good!