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International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms$
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Richard B. Freeman and Kathryn L. Shaw

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226261942

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226261959.001.0001

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International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity, and Employee Attitudes

International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity, and Employee Attitudes

Chapter:
(p.231) 8 International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity, and Employee Attitudes
Source:
International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms
Author(s):

Susan Helper

Morris M. Kleiner

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226261959.003.0009

This chapter reports on a study of the differences between the productivity of United States and Europe, conducted at five plants that belong to a single multinational firm. It investigates whether human resource policy changes within a firm in concert with other manufacturing transformations have affected the organization's ability to prosper financially and provide job satisfaction for its employees. All five plants that were studied in the chapter make similar products (sensors and actuators for automobiles) using similar processes. The chapter discusses the impact of a value-added gain-sharing plan (VAG) that was introduced at different times among the plants in such a way that had many features of a natural experiment. The analysis draws on multiple plant visits over eight years, surveys of almost all of the workforce, and confidential financial data. The study thus offers an unusual opportunity to examine the internal operations of a low-wage, non-unionfirm, using data from both management and workers.

Keywords:   international differences, lean production, productivity, employee attitudes, multinational firms

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