Do 'High-Performance' Work Practices Improve Establishment-Level Outcomes?

Posted: 10 May 2001

See all articles by Peter Cappelli

Peter Cappelli

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Center for Human Resources; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

David Neumark

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Studies of how different work practices affect organizational performance have suffered from methodological problems. Especially intractable has been the difficulty of establishing whether observed links are causal or merely reflect pre-existing differences among firms. This analysis uses a national probability sample of establishments, measures of work practices and performance that are comparable across organizations, and, most important, a unique longitudinal design incorporating data from a period prior to the advent of high-performance work practices. The conclusion most strongly supported by the evidence is that work practices transferring power to employees, often described as "high-performance" practices, raise labor costs per employee, suggesting that they may raise employee compensation. Higher compensation is a cost to employers, although some statistically weak evidence points to these practices raising productivity. The authors find little effect of high-performance work practices on overall labor efficiency, which they measure as the output per dollar spent on labor.

Suggested Citation

Cappelli, Peter and Neumark, David, Do 'High-Performance' Work Practices Improve Establishment-Level Outcomes?. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, July 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=267867

Peter Cappelli (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Center for Human Resources ( email )

3733 Spruce Street, Vance Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6358
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/faculty/cappelli.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

David Neumark

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics ( email )

3151 Social Science Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
949-824-8496 (Phone)
949-824-2182 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.socsci.uci.edu/~dneumark/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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