NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

International Differences in Lean Production, Productivity and Employee Attitudes

Susan Helper, Morris M. Kleiner

NBER Working Paper No. 13015
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):   IO   LS   PR

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13015

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