International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity and Employee Attitudes

53 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2007 Last revised: 12 Nov 2013

See all articles by Susan Helper

Susan Helper

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics

Morris M. Kleiner

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2007

Abstract

The study examines US-European productivity and worker attitude differences, focusing on changes in incentive structures. We analyze productivity and worker attitudes in five plants in the UK and US belonging to the same multinational producer of automotive sensors and actuators. We examine the firm's efforts to make complementary changes in product strategy and human-resource policies. In particular, we look at the impact of a Value-Added Gainsharing plan (VAG) that was introduced at different times among the four plants. Our analysis draws on multiple plant visits, surveys of almost all of the workforce, and confidential financial data. Our study offers a rare look inside a low-wage, non-union firm. We find that the VAG had an impact on productivity and profitability. We find that the UK plant's productivity and worker satisfaction was well below that of the US plants. However, neither our analysis nor interviews with managers suggest that differences in national institutions play a key role in explaining these results.

Suggested Citation

Helper, Susan and Kleiner, Morris M., International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity and Employee Attitudes (April 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=978406

Susan Helper

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics ( email )

Cleveland, OH 44106
United States
216-368-5541 (Phone)
216-368-5542 (Fax)

Morris M. Kleiner (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

and the Industrial Relations Center
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-625-2089 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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