Handbook of Economic Organization
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Handbook of Economic Organization

Integrating Economic and Organization Theory

Edited by Anna Grandori

This comprehensive and groundbreaking Handbook integrates economic and organization theories to help elucidate the design and evolution of economic organization. Economic organization is regarded both as a subject of inquiry and as an emerging disciplinary field in its own right, integrating insights from economics, organization theory, strategy and management, economic sociology and congnitive psychology. The contributors, who share this integrated approach, are distinguished scholars at the productive peak in their fields. Each original, state-of-the art chapter not only addresses foundational issues, but also identifies key issues for future research.
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Chapter 17: Organization of work practices and productivity: an assessment of research on world-class manufacturing

Riccardo Leoni


The chapter presents a review of research on an increasingly diffused set of work organization practices, known under various acronyms – as ‘world-class manufacturing’ (WCM), ‘high-performance work systems’ (HPWS), and others – which is supposed to sustain productivity and to constitute a new form of organizing industrial work. The analysis is primarily developed with reference to the world of manufacturing firms, focusing particularly on practices such as processes organization, high-involvement work practices, positive industrial relations and information and communication (ICT) technologies, also considering their complementarities. The review conducted here indicates that the new organizational configuration emerging as effective is composed by innovative bundles of different ‘ingredients’, that can be applied with different weights and in a variety of possible combinations. While the superior performance of this new form of work organization is acclaimed by a number of econometric studies, this chapter also highlights that some methodological questions remain open and gives some indications for future research oriented to solving them.

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