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Multiskilling, Delegation, and Continuous Process Improvement: A Comparative Analysis of U.S.-Japanese Work Organizations

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  • Hodaka Morita

    (University of New South Wales and Cornell University)

Abstract

This paper focuses on the following U.S.-Japanese differences in work organizations and labor market practices: in Japanese firms, (i) real decision-making authority is delegated more to lower hierarchical levels, (ii) employees are multiple-skilled, (iii) human capital accumulation is more firm-specific, (iv) labor turnover rate is lower, and (v) continuous process improvement is more prevalent. I present a model that addresses interconnections among three key features of work organizations (multiskilling, delegation, and continuous process improvement), and analyses ways in which they are related to labor market practices. It analyses strategic interactions among firms concerning their choices of the nature of work organizations, and shows that strategic complementarity due to labor market externality can yield the multiplicity of equilibria, which provides a systematic explanation for the U.S.-Japanese differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Hodaka Morita, 2002. "Multiskilling, Delegation, and Continuous Process Improvement: A Comparative Analysis of U.S.-Japanese Work Organizations," Labor and Demography 0207004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0207004 Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 35; figures: none
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Christos Bilanakos & Colin P. Green & John S. Heywood & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2017. "Do Dominant Firms Provide More Training?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 67-95, February.
    2. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn, 2014. "Variable Pay, Industrial Relations and Foreign Ownership: Evidence from Germany," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(3), pages 521-552, September.
    3. Uwe Jirjahn & Jens Mohrenweiser, 2015. "Performance Pay and Applicant Screening," Research Papers in Economics 2015-11, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    4. DeVaro, Jed & Farnham, Martin, 2011. "Two perspectives on multiskilling and product-market volatility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 862-871.
    5. Michael Waldman, 2012. "Theory and Evidence in Internal Labor Markets," Introductory Chapters,in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
    6. Uwe Jirjahn & Erik Poutsma, 2013. "The Use of Performance Appraisal Systems: Evidence from Dutch Establishment Data," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 801-828, October.
    7. Junichiro Ishida, 2012. "Dynamically Sabotage-Proof Tournaments," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 627-655.
    8. Kambayashi, Ryo & Kato, Takao, 2011. "Long-term Employment and Job Security over the Last Twenty-Five Years: A Comparative Study of Japan and the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 6183, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Park, Sangwon & Yaduma, Natina & Lockwood, Andrew J. & Williams, Allan M., 2016. "Demand fluctuations, labour flexibility and productivity," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 93-112.
    10. Heywood, John S. & Jirjahn, Uwe & Wei, Xiangdong, 2008. "Teamwork, monitoring and absence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 676-690, December.
    11. Storz, Cornelia & Riboldazzi, Federico & John, Moritz, 2015. "Mobility and innovation: A cross-country comparison in the video games industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 121-137.
    12. KATO Takao & KODAMA Naomi, 2016. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Gender Diversity in the Workplace: Evidence from Japan," Discussion papers 16063, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    13. Krishnan, Murugappa (Murgie) & Srinivasan, Ashok, 2007. "How do shop-floor supervisors allocate their time?," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 97-115, January.
    14. Prasad, Suraj & Tran, Hien, 2013. "Work practices, incentives for skills, and training," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 66-76.
    15. Atsuko Tanaka, "undated". "Employer Loyalty, Training, and Female Labor Supply," Working Papers 2015-27, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 25 Mar 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Delegation; Multiskilling; Process Improvement; U.S.-Japanese Differences; Work Organization;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

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