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

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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Annalisa Cristini & Alessandro Gaj & Sandrine Labory & Riccardo Leoni, 2003. "Flat Hierarchical Structure, Bundles of New Work Practices and Firm Performance," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 313-313.
  • Handle: RePEc:mul:jqat1f:doi:10.1427/11474:y:2003:i:2:p:313
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    Cited by:

    1. Kuhn, Dieter, 2011. "Delayering and Firm Performance: Evidence from Swiss firm-level Data," Working papers 2011/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Piva, Mariacristina & Santarelli, Enrico & Vivarelli, Marco, 2005. "The skill bias effect of technological and organisational change: Evidence and policy implications," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 141-157, March.
    3. Paolo Pini & Grazia Santangelo, 2005. "Innovation types and labour organisational practices: A comparison of foreign and domestic firms in the Reggio Emilia industrial districts," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 251-276.
    4. Piero Casadio, 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.
    5. Annalisa Cristini & Tor Eriksson & Dario Pozzoli, 2013. "High-Performance Management Practices and Employee Outcomes in Denmark," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 60(3), pages 232-266, July.
    6. Giovanni Costa & Arnaldo Camuffo, 2014. "The evolution of human resource management in Italy: a historical-institutional perspective," Chapters,in: The Development of Human Resource Management Across Nations, chapter 11, pages 269-299 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. 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.
    8. Annalisa Cristini & Alessandro Gaj & Riccardo Leoni, 2008. "Direct and Indirect Complementarity between Workplace Reorganization and New Technology," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 98(2), pages 87-117, March-Apr.
    9. Riccardo Leoni, 2013. "Organization of work practices and productivity: an assessment of research on world- class manufacturing," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. 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.
    11. Paolo Ghinetti, 2007. "Technology Innovations, Organisational Changes and Firms’ Wages in Italy," Working Papers 111, SEMEQ Department - Faculty of Economics - University of Eastern Piedmont.
    12. 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, October.
    13. 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.

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