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The Impact of Absenteeism on the Quality of Assembly Line Production: Is the Value of Worker Experti

Listed author(s):
  • Ricardo Mateo


    (Facultad de Económicas, Universidad de Navarra)

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    Absenteeism among manual workers is, without doubt, one of the most significant factors to affect the functioning of assembly lines in developed markets. That high levels of absenteeism have negative repercussions on the quality and costs of operations is a widely held view. According to the scientific theory of work, workers who temporarily stand in for their absent colleagues affect production quality levels because of a lack of work specialization. However, as the technology of assembly lines has improved, the need for line operator specialization has gone into decline. In this article, we analyse the effects of absenteeism on four assembly lines over the course of one year. The analysis of two hundred working days reveals more than two hundred thousand instances of effects on the quality of products. In contrast to established thinking, the empirical evidence we present here confirms that absenteeism does not produce problems in the quality of operations even at the highest levels. This evidence can be explained by the fact that the value of specialisation among manual workers has been significantly reduced by the invention of more sophisticated and specialised machinery.

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    Paper provided by School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Navarra in its series Faculty Working Papers with number 04/06.

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    Length: 34 pages
    Date of creation: 01 May 2006
    Publication status: Forthcoming, Human Factor and Ergonomics in Manufacturing
    Handle: RePEc:una:unccee:wp0406
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    1. Daniel G. Hansen, 1997. "Worker Performance and Group Incentives: A Case Study," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 37-49, October.
    2. Robert H. Doktor & William F. Hamilton, 1973. "Cognitive Style and the Acceptance of Management Science Recommendations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(8), pages 884-894, April.
    3. C. W. Churchman & A. H. Schainblatt, 1965. "The Researcher and The Manager: A Dialectic of Implementation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(4), pages 69-87, February.
    4. Kenneth L. Schultz & David C. Juran & John W. Boudreau, 1999. "The Effects of Low Inventory on the Development of Productivity Norms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(12), pages 1664-1678, December.
    5. Morris M. Kleiner & Richard B. Freeman, 2000. "Who Benefits Most from Employee Involvement: Firms or Workers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 219-223, May.
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