NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Computers, Work Organization, and Wage Outcomes

Peter Cappelli, William H. Carter

NBER Working Paper No. 7987
Issued in October 2000
NBER Program(s):   LS   PR

We examine two factors frequently thought to be changing the U.S. workplace, high performance work practices and computer use, and their relationships with pay using a national probability sample of U.S. establishments. The analysis controls for both organizational and individual characteristics and finds that higher wages are associated with several practices, particularly computer use and teamwork, for front-line workers who are the targets of most high performance work practices. Not surprisingly, relationships are not as strong for other occupations and are very weak in the non-manufacturing sector. Computer use is a particularly important influence on the wages of managers and supervisors, although it is computer use by their subordinates that is the important factor. The most unusual result may be the consistently negative and significant relationship between wages and job rotation where additional analyses suggest that job rotation in isolation from other high performance practices may proxy lower skill jobs. Some of the positive relationships vanish when various controls for human capital are added, suggesting that those wage premiums are a return to human capital and may be driven by greater skill requirements.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7987

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