Workplace Productivity and Management Practices: Volume 49

Cover of Workplace Productivity and Management Practices
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Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

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Abstract

Using data from the 2013 European Company Survey, this chapter operationalizes the representation gap as the desire for greater employee involvement in decision-making expressed by the representative of the leading employee representative body at the workplace. According to this measure, there is evidence of a substantial shortfall in employee involvement in the European Union, not dissimilar to that reported for the United States. The chapter proceeds to investigate how the size of this representation gap varies by type of representative structure, information provided by management, the resource base available to the representatives, and the status of trust between the parties. Perceived deficits are found to be smaller where workplace representation is via works councils rather than union bodies. Furthermore, the desire for greater involvement is reduced where information provided the employee representative on a range of establishment issues is judged satisfactory. A higher frequency of meetings with management also appears to mitigate the expressed desire for greater involvement. Each of these results is robust to estimation over different country clusters. However, unlike the other arguments, the conclusion that shortfalls in employee involvement representation are smaller under works councils than union bodies is nullified where trust in management is lacking.

Abstract

We present theoretical and empirical evidence challenging early studies that found unions were detrimental to workplace innovation. Under our theoretical model, unions prefer product innovation to labor-saving technological process innovation, thus making union wage bargaining regimes more conducive to product innovation than competitive pay setting. We test the theory with population-representative workplace data for Britain and Norway. We find strong support for the notion that local bargaining leads to product innovation, either alone or together with technological innovation.

Abstract

In this chapter, we propose a theoretical assessment of the relationship between unions and investments. We develop a simple model where a firm chooses its investment level anticipating the employee's effort choice and the outcome of wage bargaining. First, and consistently with the holdup view, we find that the union's bargaining power has a negative effect on the accumulation of fixed capital. Second, we show that this negative effect is mitigated by the voice ability of unions to ease the displeasure of exerting effort. Hence, when the voice ability of unions is strong vis-à-vis their bargaining power, the holdup view does not necessarily survive, and unionized firms invest more than their nonunionized competitors.

Abstract

The main function of hierarchies is to coordinate activities within an organization, but a hierarchical structure also provides work incentives, by offering the prospect of hierarchical mobility. An alternative way for organizations to motivate workers is through job design. In organizations offering rewarding jobs, the incentivizing role of hierarchies may become obsolete, and the number of hierarchical levels can be reduced. Two job design features are particularly relevant: autonomy and problem-solving. We investigate the relationship between the number of hierarchical layers and job design features empirically using the European Company Survey (ECS 2019). We find that the extent of the adoption of both complex job design and autonomous teamwork is negatively associated with the number of hierarchical layers. However, the association between complex job design and the number of hierarchical layers is weakened, and in some cases disappears, in larger organizations where hierarchies have a more important coordination role and it is weakened when the knowledge acquisition costs are high. The use of autonomous teams is robustly negatively associated with the number of hierarchical layers.

Abstract

Personnel economics tends be based on single-firm case studies. Here, we examine several internal labor market dimensions of nearly 5,000 firms, over a period of 20 years, using detailed matched employer–employee data from Portugal. In the spirit of Baker, Gibbs, and Holmstrom (1994a, 1994b), we consider worker turnover, the role of job levels and human capital as wage determinants, wage dispersion within job levels, the importance of tenure in promotions and exits, and the scope for careers. We find a large degree of diversity in most of these personnel dimensions across firms. Moreover, some dimensions are shown to be robust predictors of firm performance, even after controlling for time-invariant firm heterogeneity and other variables. These dimensions include low worker churning, the importance of careers, low wage dispersion at low and intermediate job levels, and a tight relationship between human capital variables and wages.

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine the impact of pay-for-performance incentives on learning-by-doing. We exploit personnel data on fruit pickers paid under two distinct compensation contracts: a standard piece rate plan and one with an extra one-time bonus tied to output. Under the latter, we observe bunching of performance just above the bonus threshold, suggesting workers distort their behavior in response to the discrete bonus. Such bunching behavior increases as workers gain experience. At the same time, the bonus contract induces considerable learning-by-doing for workers throughout the productivity distribution who presumably hope to one day hit the target, and these improvements significantly outweigh the losses to the firm from the bunching. In contrast, under the standard piece rate contract, we find minimal evidence of bunching and only small performance improvements at the bottom of the productivity distribution. Our results suggest that contract design can help foster learning on the job, underscoring the importance of dynamic considerations in principle-agent models.

Abstract

Using data from a retail chain of 193 bakery shops that underwent downsizing, we study the effects of two types of downsizing announcements – closure or sale to another operator – on sales in the affected shops, and how these effects are moderated by job security perceptions. On average, sales in the affected shops go down by 26% after a closure announcement and by 7% after a sale announcement. Sales decline more sharply in shops where employees had higher job security perceptions before the announcement. Our findings are consistent with psychological contract theory: a breach of an implicit contract promising job security in exchange for work effort results in a reciprocal effort withdrawal. We rule out several alternative explanations to our findings.

Abstract

Empirical studies show low pecuniary returns as a result of switching from wage employment to entrepreneurship. We reconsider the pecuniary gains attributable to this switching by using an event study design and a variety of identifying assumptions aimed at obtaining robust estimates of causal effects. An earnings equation is estimated on data covering the whole Norwegian population of individuals matched to the entire population of firms established in the period 2002–2013. We find unambiguous evidence that the average returns to entrepreneurship are negative for individuals entering entrepreneurship through self-employment and positive, but modest for incorporated startups. The positive returns to incorporated entrepreneurship comes at the cost of much higher income risk: incorporated entrepreneurs experience an increase in the standard deviation of log earnings growth of almost 75% compared to remaining in wage employment. While there is a huge gender gap in entrepreneurship rates, we find no significant difference between men and women in the average returns to entrepreneurship.

Abstract

With many countries having reached universal primary and secondary education, parents are increasingly investing in private tutoring as a means of ensuring that their children attend the best schools and universities. However, unlike the returns to years of schooling and effects of school quality on student achievement, the effects of spending on private tutoring have received limited attention. This chapter studies the impact of tutoring on higher educational outcomes using exogenous variation in tutoring expenditure caused by the imposition of a curfew on the operating hours of tutoring institutes in Korea. The estimated effects of the curfew highlight the severity of the college entrance rat race, with a 10 p.m. curfew constraining tutoring expenditure and increasing sleeping hours. I find diminishing marginal effects of tutoring on college entrance and positive effects on degree completion while the impact on college major followed varies across disciplines.

Abstract

Job finding and separation are not well studied in economies with high labor informality. In this chapter, we contribute to filling the gap in the literature of labor turnover, proposing a methodology to estimate both indicators in an economy with high informality. To this end, we estimate indicators of job finding and separation rates for Peru's developing economy, in which labor informality stands at 70%. We find that, on average, these indicators in the formal sector are similar to those estimated in developed economies; however, in the informal sector, the calculated indicators are approximately two times higher than those of the formal sector. The two indicators show considerable heterogeneity in the informal sector according to several observable categories; in addition, the separation rate is countercyclical, and the finding rate is procyclical, this cyclicality being greater in the formal sector.

Cover of Workplace Productivity and Management Practices
DOI
10.1108/S0147-9121202249
Publication date
2021-12-07
Book series
Research in Labor Economics
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-80117-675-0
eISBN
978-1-80117-674-3
Book series ISSN
0147-9121