Integrating Economic and Organization Theory
Edited by Anna Grandori
Chapter 17: Organization of work practices and productivity: an assessment of research on world-class manufacturing
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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