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Workplace Transformation


Workplace Transformation and Human Resource Practices
in the Pulp and Paper Industry

Research Theme: Workplace Transformation

Project Objective Statement: To learn about the prevalence of nontraditional work systems in the pulp & paper industry and their effects on mill performance.

Project summary:

This is a study of workplace organization and human resource practices in the pulp and paper industry that will be directed towards the industry's traditions and experience. This industry, a major manufacturing branch of production, has undergone major changes in recent years, owing to far-reaching shifts in process technology, labor relations, regulatory environments, and industry consolidation. Because of the industry's economic difficulties, its financial performance has been much scrutinized. Yet its human resource practices have only seldom been the object of systematic empirical research. The absence of such research has carried with it two different sorts of costs. First, although labor represents a small proportion of mill operating budgets (typically between 15 to 20 per cent), even small variations in employee attitudes and behaviors are likely to have major effects on the performance of production units. Documenting the performance-related impacts of innovative HR practices will therefore be of practical importance to management and labor union officials alike. Second, and in more theoretical terms, neglect of the paper industry has led scholars to overlook a potentially rich source of data with which to address a number of substantive questions relating to workplace change that are of interest to students of manufacturing operations in the United States.


Prof. Charles Parsons, Georgia Tech College of Management, Georgia Institute of Technology

Tel: 404 894-4921


Planned Duration: 3 years; started in Fall 2001


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