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9 - Public Policy Implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2010

Casey Ichniowski
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
David I. Levine
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Craig Olson
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
George Strauss
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

The research presented in this volume suggests several implications for public policy. First, policy should support research on what makes workplaces effective. A goal of this research should be to create and validate measures of whether front-line employees solve problems for customers. Such measures would be valuable for investors, top managers, and regulators as well as customers. Second, employers need measures of which employees have skills in problem-solving. Finally, the government should remove legal barriers to new work practices.

The introduction to this volume drew three conclusions from the research literature on effective workplace practices. The first is that innovative human resource management practices can have large, economically important effects on productivity, profitability, and (long-term) stock market value. These positive results do not rely on any single innovation. Instead, they come from a system of related work practices designed to enhance worker participation, decentralization of decisionmaking, and flexibility in the design of work.

The magnitude of the effects suggests that in a well-functioning marketplace, new workplace practices should diffuse rapidly. In fact, the second conclusion is that while most contemporary U.S. businesses have adopted some forms of innovative work practices aimed at enhancing employee participation, only a small percentage have adopted a comprehensive system of innovative work practices.

The contrast between these two conclusions suggests the third: a number of obstacles impede the move to a system of innovative practices.

Type
Chapter
Information
The American Workplace
Skills, Pay, and Employment Involvement
, pp. 273 - 282
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2000

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