About Us | Research | Education | Connectivity | Resources | Sponsors |    Sloan   



Empowering Workers is Tricky

This according to CPBIS researchers Chuck Parsons and Raul Necochea, whose article in the July/August issue of PaperAge expands on the statement. As researchers studying organizational behavior and human resource management, the authors were interested in how effectively the paper industry is implementing high performance work systems (HPWS), which they describe as work systems that maximize the fit between the social and technological aspects of the workplace. Accordingly, they conducted two case studies and developed an industry survey of paper machine operating crews to evaluate the prevalence and efficiency of HPWS.

In one mill, conflict occurred between management and workers over an issue that would have been strictly a management prerogative in a traditional mill. Under HPWS, the resolution could not be a unilateral management decision. Instead the strategy adopted involved the creation of another forum for worker involvement.

In the second mill studied, a gain-sharing program was instituted, and a degree of self-directedness was encouraged for workers. One manager credited monetary incentives like gain-sharing with the successful cooperative culture found within the mill. Nevertheless, in this case, as in the first one, some managers continue to struggle with their lack of authority.

Both cases point out the different role and expectations of managers in a HPWS setting. It is often stated that the training needs are high for workers in such settings, but the same would appear to hold true for managers, especially those who have worked in a more traditional setting.

For more information on the case studies, and for details of the survey and its results, see the article in PaperAge. Chuck Parsons can be contacted by e-mail at charles.parsons@mgt.gatech.edu and Raul Necochea at raul.necochea@mail.mcgill.ca


About CPBIS: The Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies (CPBIS) is an internationally recognized academic research center providing business knowledge of relevance to the global forest products industry. The CPBIS is cosponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and the Paper Industry.



© 2003 - 2007 Center for Paper Business and Industry Studies.
For comments about the web site, contact webadmin@cpbis.gatech.edu