International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity, and Employee Attitudes

Susan Helper and Morris M. Kleiner

in International Differences in the Business Practices and Productivity of Firms

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226261942
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226261959 | DOI:
International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity, and Employee Attitudes

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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

Chapter.  13847 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Economics

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