To read this content please select one of the options below:

Human factors: spanning the gap between OM and HRM

W. Patrick Neumann (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)
Jan Dul (Department of Management of Technology and Innovation, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 24 August 2010




The purpose of this paper is to examine the claim that the application of human factors (HF) knowledge can improve both human well‐being and operations system (OS) performance.


A systematic review was conducted using a general and two specialist databases to identify empirical studies addressing both human and OS effects in examining manufacturing OS design aspects.


A total of 45 empirical studies were found, addressing both the human and system effects of OS (re)design. Of those studies providing clear directional effects, 95 percent showed a convergence between human effects and system effects (+, + or −,−), 5 percent showed a divergence of human and system effects (+,− or −,+). System effects included quality, productivity, implementation performance of new technologies, and also more “intangible” effects in terms of improved communication and co‐operation. Human effects included employee health, attitudes, physical workload, and “quality of working life”.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should attend to both human and system outcomes in trying to determine optimal configurations for OSs as this appears to be a complex relationship with potential long‐term impact on operational performance.

Practical implications

The application of HF in OS design can support improvement in both employee well‐being and system performance in a number of manufacturing domains.


The paper outlines and documents a research and practice gap between the fields of HF and operations management research that has not been previously discussed in the management literature. This gap may be inhibiting the design of OSs with superior long‐term performance.



Patrick Neumann, W. and Dul, J. (2010), "Human factors: spanning the gap between OM and HRM", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 30 No. 9, pp. 923-950.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles