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Creative Work Systems in Destructive Markets

  • Sue Konzelmann
  • Robert Forrant
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    In the United States, the past twenty years have been marked by significant restructuring of both financial and physical corporate assets designed to strengthen firms' relative market position either voluntarily or in response to the threat of take-over. Firms have also restructured work systems in an effort to improve production efficiency, product quality and flexibility. While most studies find that these new workplace techniques generate substantive productivity and quality gains and financial results that are equal if not superior to those associated with more traditional work systems, in the U.S., they have proven difficult to maintain. Diffusion is slow and not extensive; and even the most promising cases have either failed or come under extreme pressure, both internal and external. Using the productive systems approach, our study examines the inter-relationship between "creative" work systems and "destructive" markets using a sample of U.S. manufacturing firms in the metalworking, jet engine production and steel processing industries.

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    Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp187.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp187
    Note: PRO-1
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/

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    1. S Black & L Lynch, 1997. "How to Compete: The Impact of Workplace Practices and Information Technology on Productivity," CEP Discussion Papers dp0376, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Beth Almeida, 1997. "Are Good Jobs Flying Away?: U.S. Aircraft Engine Manufacturing and Sustainable Prosperity," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_206, Levy Economics Institute.
    3. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Corporate Governance: Some Theory and Implications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 678-89, May.
    4. Ichniowski, Casey & Shaw, Kathryn & Prennushi, Giovanna, 1997. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity: A Study of Steel Finishing Lines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 291-313, June.
    5. Wilkinson, Frank, 1983. "Productive Systems," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(3-4), pages 413-29, September.
    6. Paul Osterman, 1994. "How common is workplace transformation and who adopts it?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(2), pages 173-188, January.
    7. Kochan, Thomas A., 1996. "What works at work : overview and assessment," Working papers 3886-96., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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