Pub. Date:
Cornell University Press
Manufacturing Advantage: Why High Performance Work Systems Pay Off / Edition 1

Manufacturing Advantage: Why High Performance Work Systems Pay Off / Edition 1


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Much of the hoopla surrounding quality circles, teams, and high-performance work systems has been based on anecdotes and very thin evidence. It has not been established that those employee involvement strategies amount to anything more than another series of management fads or ruses designed to get more out of workers without giving them anything in return. This revelatory book, written by some of the skeptics, lays some of the suspicion to rest.

Based on their visits to 44 plants and surveys of more than 4,000 employees, Eileen Appelbaum, Thomas Bailey, Peter Berg, and Arne L. Kalleberg concluded that companies are indeed more successful when managers share knowledge and power with workers and when workers assume increased responsibility and discretion.

The study of steel, apparel, and medical electronics and imaging plants revealed much. In self-directed teams, workers were able to eliminate bottlenecks and coordinate the work process. In task forces created to improve quality, they communicated with individuals outside their own work groups and were able to solve problems. Expensive equipment in steel mills operated with fewer interruptions, turnaround and labor costs were cut in apparel factories, and costly inventories of components and medical equipment were reduced.

And what did the employees think? The worker survey showed that jobs in participatory work systems often provide more challenging tasks and more opportunities for creativity. Employees in apparel had higher hourly earnings; those in steel had both higher hourly earnings and higher job satisfaction. Workers in more participatory settings were no more likely than others to report heavy workloads or excessive demands on their time. They were, however, less likely to report involuntary overtime or conflict with co-workers, and were more likely to be satisfied with their surroundings.

Manufacturing Advantage provides the best assessment available of the effectiveness of high-performance work systems. Freestanding chapters near the end of the book provide full documentation of research data without interrupting the narrative flow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801486555
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/22/1999
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Eileen Appelbaum is Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. She is author or coauthor of several books including The New American Workplace: Transforming Work Systems in the United States, also from Cornell, and the coeditor of Low Wage America. An expert on the apparel industry, Thomas Bailey is Professor of Economics of Education and Director of the Institute on Education and the Economy at Columbia University. He is author or coauthor of three books, most recently Learning to Work. Peter Berg, formerly a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, is Associate Professor in the School of Labor and Industrial Relations at Michigan State University. Arne L. Kalleberg is Kenan Professor of Sociology and Chair of the department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has coauthored or edited four books, the most recent of which (coauthored with David Knoke, Peter Marsden, and Joe Spaeth) is Organizations in America: A Portrait of Their Structures and Human Resource Practices.

What People are Saying About This

Sue Hutchinson

"The book... is well structured and written... Undoubtedly, one of the great virtues of this book is that, although firmly based in research evidence, the material is presented in such a way as to make it accessible to a wide range of audiences."

Harry Katz

"This is an excellent piece of research that will be of interest to a large audience in both academic and public policy circles."

David Rouse

"This study analyzes productivity improvement and the effects of workplace practices within high-performance work systems (HPWS) on trust, intrinsic rewards, stress, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment among workers in the steel, apparel, and medical electronics industries.... EPI's conclusion here that HPWS will help U.S. manufacturing companies meet competitive challenges should stimulate discussions between labor and management."

Charles Derber

"Fresh and surprising evidence for the idea that employee empowerment and shop-floor participation are not only good for workers but a major source of competitive advantage. Skeptics in management and labor will have to come to terms with this book."

Robert Taylor

"Manufacturing Advantage seeks to focus on what may sound an unfashionable topic nowadays — the future of US manufacturing in a competitive global economy... What this impressive book demonstrates is that manufacturing and information technology, far from being separate sectors, are in fact firmly interrelated."

Customer Reviews