Reinventing The Workplace

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What is the future shape of the American workplace? This question is the focus of a national debate as the country strives to find a system that provides a good standard of living for workers while allowing U.S. businesses to succeed at home and compete abroad. In this book, David Levine uses case studies and extensive evidence to show that greater employee involvement in the workplace can significantly increase both productivity and worker satisfaction. Employee involvement has many labels, including high-performance workplaces, continuous improvement, or total quality management. The strongest underlying theme is that frontline employees who are actually performing the work will always have insights about how to improve their tasks. Employee involvement encompasses policies that, at the minimal end, permit workers to suggest improvement, and at the substantive end, create an integrated strategy to give all employees the ability, motivation, and authority to constantly improve the organization's operations. Despite the evidence of its benefits, substantive employee involvement remains the exception in the U.S. work force. Levine explores the obstacles to its spread, which include legal barriers, capital markets that discourage investment in people, organizational inertia, and the costs of implementation. Levine concludes with specific public policy recommendations for increasing the extent of employee involvement, including changes in government regulation of capital and labor markets to encourage long-term investment and labor-management cooperation. He recommends macroeconomic policies to sustain high employment, less regulation for high-involvement workplaces, and training in schools and on the job to teach high-involvement practices. He also suggests new roles for unions and provides a checklist for employers to assess their progress in implementing employee involvement.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Levine, a member of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that reengineering through greater employee involvement will significantly improve productivity and employee satisfaction. He presents his evidence through a case study of the New United Motor Manufacturing plant, a GM-Toyota venture. Once an old GM plant with problems of low quality, poor labor relations, and high absenteeism, the new factory is now at the top of U.S. plants in terms of quality and low absenteeism and has improved productivity by about 40 percent even though it employs the same workers. Levine covers methods of creating and fostering employee involvement, explores why U.S. companies ignore evidence of the benefits of this involvement, and explains how public policy discourages these actions. This highly practical guide will be of interest to managers and human resources personnel.Gary W. White, Pennsylvania State Univ., Harrisburg
Increasing worker participation will not instantly dissipate the traditional antagonism between workers and bosses, says economist Levine, but can provide a framework for creating more rewarding jobs and increasing company productivity and profitability. He points to the US economic and political system as a main obstacle to such changes, and recommends reforming laws against employee investment, and financial and macroeconomic policies that penalize companies for long-term investment in their workforce. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815752318
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Lexile: 1480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 NUMMI: A Case Study 10
Ch. 3 Employee Support 36
Ch. 4 Managerial, Union, and Business Partner Support 63
Ch. 5 Profits and Employee Involvement 83
Ch. 6 Market Failures and Employee Involvement 98
Ch. 7 Employee Involvement in Japan 115
Ch. 8 Public Policies 122
Ch. 9 Conclusion 164
Appendix 175
Notes 181
Index 212
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