IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/labeco/v18y2011i6p862-871.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Two perspectives on multiskilling and product-market volatility

Author

Listed:
  • DeVaro, Jed
  • Farnham, Martin

Abstract

We study the effect of product-market volatility on a firm's choice between multiskilling and specialization. We construct a theoretical model that captures the tradeoff between multiskilling (which gives greater flexibility to reassign workers in production) and specialization (which provides workers with the expertise to respond to product market signals in their area of specialty). Using data from a nationally-representative cross section of British establishments, we find that greater volatility is associated with greater specialization. This result holds both inside and outside of manufacturing, but consistent with our model, it holds only in multi-product establishments and not in single-product ones.

Suggested Citation

  • DeVaro, Jed & Farnham, Martin, 2011. "Two perspectives on multiskilling and product-market volatility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 862-871.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:6:p:862-871
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2011.07.004
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927537111000820
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J, 2000. "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: From Tayloristic to Holistic Organization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 353-376, July.
    2. Elizabeth Webster, 2004. "Firms' decisions to innovate and innovation routines," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(8), pages 733-745.
    3. Hodaka Morita, 2005. "Multi-skilling, Delegation and Continuous Process Improvement: A Comparative Analysis of US-Japanese Work Organizations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 72(285), pages 69-93, February.
    4. Kato, Takao & Owan, Hideo, 2007. "Market Characteristics, Intra-Firm Coordination, and the Choice of Human Resource Management Systems: Evidence from New Japanese Data," Working Papers 104-25, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
    5. Cindy Zoghi & Alec Levenson & Michael Gibbs, 2005. "Why Are Jobs Designed the Way They Are?," Working Papers 382, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    6. Carmichael, H Lorne & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1993. "Multiskilling, Technical Change and the Japanese Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 142-160, January.
    7. Masahiko Aoki, 2013. "Horizontal vs. Vertical Information Structure of the Firm," Chapters,in: Comparative Institutional Analysis, chapter 5, pages 57-58 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Tor Eriksson & Jaime Ortega, 2006. "The Adoption of Job Rotation: Testing the Theories," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(4), pages 653-666, July.
    9. Itoh, Hideshi, 1994. "Job design, delegation and cooperation: A principal-agent analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 691-700, April.
    10. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2005. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination versus Specialization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 675-702, August.
    11. Rob Simmons & David Berri, 2009. "Gains from Specialization and Free Agency: The Story from the Gridiron," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 34(1), pages 81-98, February.
    12. Boucekkine, Raouf & Crifo, Patricia, 2008. "Human Capital Accumulation And The Transition From Specialization To Multitasking," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 320-344, June.
    13. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 1999. "Job Rotation: Cost, Benefits, and Stylized Facts," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(2), pages 301-301, June.
    14. Edward P. Lazear, 2009. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(5), pages 914-940, October.
    15. Morita, Hodaka, 2001. "Choice of Technology and Labour Market Consequences: An Explanation of U.S.-Japanese Differences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 29-50, January.
    16. Jed DeVaro, 2005. "Teams, Autonomy, and the Financial Performance of Firms," Labor and Demography 0508004, EconWPA.
    17. Wouter Dessein & Tano Santos, 2006. "Adaptive Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(5), pages 956-985, October.
    18. Jaime Ortega, 2001. "Job Rotation as a Learning Mechanism," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(10), pages 1361-1370, October.
    19. Jed DeVaro, 2005. "The Effects of Self-Managed and Closely-Managed Teams on Labor Productivity and Product Quality: An Empirical Analysis of a Cross Section of Establishments," Labor and Demography 0510002, EconWPA.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:iepoli:v:42:y:2018:i:c:p:56-65 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Prasad, Suraj & Tran, Hien, 2013. "Work practices, incentives for skills, and training," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 66-76.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Training; Job design;

    JEL classification:

    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:18:y:2011:i:6:p:862-871. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/labeco .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.