The Wage Effects of High Performance Work Organization in Manufacturing

  • Osterman P
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An unresolved question about now-widespread innovative work systems such as teams and quality programs is whether they influence wage determination. This study examines that possible association in manufacturing. The author uses data from the 1997 National Establishment Survey that allow examination of how new work systems affected not only employees who were directly involved in them but other workers as well. The key finding is that for core blue-collar manufacturing employees, higher wages were associated with High Performance Work Organization (HPWO) systems. While higher skill levels and computer- based technologies were associated with higher wages, the key mechanism appears to have been productivity gains, independent of skill and technology, that were shared via various across-the-board wage payment systems. HPWO systems appear to have increased managers' wages as well, although through different channels. The author finds no evidence that HPWO-related wage gains led to greater wage inequality among the directly involved employees.

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  • Paul Osterman

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