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Cross-Utilization of Workers Whose Capabilities Differ


  • Gerard M. Campbell

    (Department of Operations and Information Management, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269)


This paper develops a model for allocating cross-trained workers at the beginning of a shift in a multidepartment service environment. It assumes departments are trying to maximize objective functions that are concave with respect to the number of workers assigned. Worker capabilities are described by parameters that range from zero to one, with fractional values representing workers who are less than fully qualified. The nonlinear programming model presented is a variant of the generalized assignment problem. The model is used in a series of experiments to investigate the value of cross-utilization as a function of factors such as demand variability and levels of cross-training. Results show that the benefits of cross-utilization can be substantial, and in many cases a small degree of cross-training can capture most of the benefits. Beyond a certain amount additional cross-training adds little additional value, and the preferred amount depends heavily on the level of demand variability.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerard M. Campbell, 1999. "Cross-Utilization of Workers Whose Capabilities Differ," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(5), pages 722-732, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:45:y:1999:i:5:p:722-732

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jonas Ingels & Broos Maenhout, 0. "Employee substitutability as a tool to improve the robustness in personnel scheduling," OR Spectrum: Quantitative Approaches in Management, Springer;Gesellschaft für Operations Research e.V., vol. 0, pages 1-36.
    2. Peters, Emmanuel & de Matta, Renato & Boe, Warren, 2007. "Short-term work scheduling with job assignment flexibility for a multi-fleet transport system," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 180(1), pages 82-98, July.
    3. Wallace J. Hopp & Eylem Tekin & Mark P. Van Oyen, 2004. "Benefits of Skill Chaining in Serial Production Lines with Cross-Trained Workers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(1), pages 83-98, January.
    4. Wright, P. Daniel & Mahar, Stephen, 2013. "Centralized nurse scheduling to simultaneously improve schedule cost and nurse satisfaction," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1042-1052.
    5. Rodolfo Cuevas & Juan-Carlos Ferrer & Mathias Klapp & Juan-Carlos Muñoz, 2016. "A mixed integer programming approach to multi-skilled workforce scheduling," Journal of Scheduling, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 91-106, February.
    6. Thompson, Gary M. & Goodale, John C., 2006. "Variable employee productivity in workforce scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 170(2), pages 376-390, April.
    7. repec:spr:jsched:v:21:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10951-017-0523-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Campbell, Gerard M. & Diaby, Moustapha, 2002. "Development and evaluation of an assignment heuristic for allocating cross-trained workers," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 138(1), pages 9-20, April.
    9. repec:spr:orspec:v:39:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00291-017-0476-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Brusco, Michael J., 2015. "A bicriterion algorithm for the allocation of cross-trained workers based on operational and human resource objectives," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 247(1), pages 46-59.
    11. Fowler, John W. & Wirojanagud, Pornsarun & Gel, Esma S., 2008. "Heuristics for workforce planning with worker differences," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 190(3), pages 724-740, November.
    12. Maenhout, Broos & Vanhoucke, Mario, 2013. "An integrated nurse staffing and scheduling analysis for longer-term nursing staff allocation problems," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 485-499.
    13. Sayin, Serpil & Karabati, Selcuk, 2007. "Assigning cross-trained workers to departments: A two-stage optimization model to maximize utility and skill improvement," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 176(3), pages 1643-1658, February.
    14. Henao, César Augusto & Ferrer, Juan Carlos & Muñoz, Juan Carlos & Vera, Jorge, 2016. "Multiskilling with closed chains in a service industry: A robust optimization approach," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 166-178.
    15. Eylem Tekin & Wallace J. Hopp & Mark P. Van Oyen, 2002. "Benefits of Skill Chaining in Production Lines with Cross-Trained Workers: An Extended Abstract," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 4(1), pages 17-20.
    16. Tiwari, Vikram & Patterson, James H. & Mabert, Vincent A., 2009. "Scheduling projects with heterogeneous resources to meet time and quality objectives," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 193(3), pages 780-790, March.
    17. White, Sheneeta W. & Badinelli, Ralph D., 2012. "A model for efficiency-based resource integration in services," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 217(2), pages 439-447.
    18. Paul, Jomon Aliyas & MacDonald, Leo, 2014. "Modeling the benefits of cross-training to address the nursing shortage," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 83-95.
    19. Gnanlet, Adelina & Gilland, Wendell G., 2014. "Impact of productivity on cross-training configurations and optimal staffing decisions in hospitals," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 238(1), pages 254-269.
    20. Batta, Rajan & Berman, Oded & Wang, Qian, 2007. "Balancing staffing and switching costs in a service center with flexible servers," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 177(2), pages 924-938, March.
    21. repec:eee:proeco:v:196:y:2018:i:c:p:176-187 is not listed on IDEAS


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