The Influence of Soft factors on the Implementation of Maintenance Regimes: A case study of a Natural Gas Plant in Tanzania
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Over the past three decades, there has been a significant increase in the interest of human aspects and their influence on organizational performance. This is because organizations came to the realization that focusing on only hard (technical) factors could not provide the performance results they thrived to achieve. The proper knowledge and implementation of soft factors is very important as it can act as a distinguishing feature between normal functioning and best-in-class maintenance regimes. Due to the complexity of soft factors, there has been a tendency of extant literature to focus more on hard (technical) than soft (human) factors in determining performance facilitating factors. Using semi-structured interviews, this study identified soft factors and its underlying influence on maintenance operations and uncovered the influence of national contexts such as culture and level of national development in determining which soft factors are perceived to be more important than others. The identified soft factors influencing maintenance regime were found to be; (1) top management engagement and oversight, (2) on-the-job trainings (OJT), (3) education and career growth, (4) collaboration, (5) safety and security, (6) recognition programs, and (7) human factor ergonomics (HFE). Being aware of these factors can assist the decision makers to understand which factors should be incorporated in their operations to facilitate higher performance in the implementation of daily maintenance operations. Apart from identifying the soft factors, this study also revealed that the nature of the industry and operations performed by an organization has more influence in the perception of soft factors and understanding which ones are more important than others. The national context however was found to have less influence on this perception.