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On Job Rotation

  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

A fundamental principle of economics with which Adam Smith begins The Wealth of Nations is the division of labor. Some firms, however, have been pursuing a practice called job rotation, which assigns each worker not to a single and specific task but to a set of several tasks among which he or she rotates with some frequency. We examine the practice of job rotation as a serious alternative to specialization, with three objectives. The first is to consider current and historical examples of job rotation, in addition to those in Japanese firms, in order to examine the variety of contexts in which job rotation has been practiced. Second, we develop a simple model of work organization in order to examine the cost and benefits of job rotation and to identify factors that make it the preferred organization of work. Extending the model in light of the available evidence, we critically examine the previous explanations of job rotation and identify some of the other, previously unnoticed, benefits such as reduced possibilities of shirking because of peer pressure. As a third objective, we evaluate the benefits of job rotation with respect to the organizational form of firms, particularly remuneration schemes and worker participation in decision making.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/1998-02.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1998-02.

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Length: 323pages
Date of creation: Oct 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, June 1999, 155(2): 301-20.
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1998-02
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Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/

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  1. Metin M. Cosgel & John E. Murray, 1997. "Productivity of a Commune: The Shakers, 1850-80," Working papers 1997-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Gary S. Murphy Becker & Kevin M., 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 79, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
  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. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-91, September.
  6. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1995. "Complementarities and fit strategy, structure, and organizational change in manufacturing," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 179-208, April.
  7. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Menachem Rosner & Louis Putterman, 1991. "Factors behind the Supply and Demand for Less Alienating Work, and Some International Illustrations," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 18(1), pages 18-41, January.
  9. Carmichael, H.L. & Macleod, W.B., 1991. "Multiskilling, Technical Change And The Japanese Firm," Cahiers de recherche 9112, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en ├ęconomie quantitative, CIREQ.
  10. Pagano, Ugo, 1991. "Property Rights, Asset Specificity, and the Division of Labour under Alternative Capitalist Relations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 315-42, September.
  11. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
  12. Miyazaki, H., 1993. "Employeeism, Corporate Governance and the J-Firm," ISER Discussion Paper 0295, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  13. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-28, June.
  14. Aoki, Masahiko, 1986. "Horizontal vs. Vertical Information Structure of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 971-83, December.
  15. Miyazaki Hajime, 1993. "Employeeism, Corporate Governance, and the J-Firm," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 443-469, June.
  16. 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.
  17. Minkler, Alanson P., 1993. "Knowledge and internal organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 17-30, May.
  18. Aoki, Masahiko, 1990. "Toward an Economic Model of the Japanese Firm," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 1-27, March.
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