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Flat Hierarchical Structure, Bundles of New Work Practices and Firm Performance

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  • Cristini Annalisa
  • Gaj Alessandro
  • Labory Sandrine
  • Leoni Riccardo

Abstract

In the last decade a growing economic literature has been devoted to the relationship between firm organisation and performance. Empirical analyses mainly focus on the relationship between human resources management and firm performance, neglecting the role played by organisational designs. The aim of this paper is to integrate the analysis of this relationship and verify the extent to which it is relevant for Italian firms. The data set, for a sample of manufacturing firms located in Lombardy, is composed of a cross-section survey information on workplace organisation and a balance sheet panel. We confirm the major results of studies carried out in other countries, namely: practices appear in clusters, have positive effects on productivity and are favoured by high skills. Moreover we find that a flat hierarchical structure is a condition "sine qua non" for some practices to be implemented and become productive; however, practices like the degree of autonomy of the team, consultation, information sharing, selective hiring and cognitive training are productive only if the horizontal structure is accompanied by good industrial relations. The latter appears to be one of the complementary conditions for radical reorganisation leading to a flat structure and a consequent empowerment of human resources. The road of internal firm flexibility appears to be a strong source of productivity, able to fully exploit the potential of new, more complex and versatile equipments based on investments in advanced manufacturing and in the so-called "general purpose technologies". Policy implications in terms of diffusion of workplaces re-engineering are derived and discussed.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Società editrice il Mulino in its journal Rivista italiana degli economisti.

Volume (Year): (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 313

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Handle: RePEc:mul:jqat1f:doi:10.1427/11474:y:2003:i:2:p:313

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Cited by:
  1. Casadio Piero, 2010. "Firm level wage bargaining and territorial wage differentials: evidence from the Bank of Italy survey on firms," Politica economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 241-292.
  2. Cristini, Annalise & Eriksson, Tor & Pozzoli, Dario, 2011. "High-Performance Management Practices and Employee Outcomes in Denmark," Working Papers 11-1, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  3. Adel Ben Youssef & David Castillo Merino & Walid Hadhri, 2012. "Determinants of Intra-firm Diffusion Process of ICT: Theoretical Sources and Empirical Evidence from Catalan Firms," Post-Print halshs-00937176, HAL.
  4. Annalisa Cristini & Dario Pozzoli, 2010. "Workplace practices and firm performance in manufacturing: A comparative study of Italy and Britain," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(7), pages 818-842, November.
  5. Piero, Casadio, 2010. "Contrattazione aziendale integrativa e differenziali salariali territoriali: informazioni dall'indagine sulle imprese della Banca d'Italia," MPRA Paper 29384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Cristini, Annalisa & Pozzoli, Dario, 2008. "New Workplace Practices and Firm Performance: A Comparative Study of Italy and Britain," Working Papers 08-9, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.

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