Changing Employment Practices and the Quality of Jobs: Case Studies of Medium Size Firms in Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan Communities in Central New York

Awarded Scholars:
Derek Jones, Hamilton College
Takao Kato, Colgate University
Adam Weinberg, Colgate University
Project Date:
Nov 1999
Award Amount:
$153,791
Project Programs:
Future of Work

One goal of corporate restructuring is to foster a so-called "high-performance workplace," in which skilled workers are organized into small, relatively autonomous teams, granted more responsibility and expected to show greater initiative. Derek Jones of Hamilton College with Takao Kato and Adam Weinberg of Colgate University want to know whether such high-performance workplace strategies are slower to emerge, costlier to implement, and more difficult to sustain outside of metropolitan centers. In small towns and rural districts, isolated from each other and from economic hubs, the pool of skills may be shallower, the diffusion of new technologies may be slower, and the outlook of managers may be more provincial. As a consequence, firms might find it more difficult to break away from traditional workplace norms, based on close supervision and the threat of dismissal. The researchers will undertake 30 case studies of medium-sized firms in manufacturing, retailing, and hospitality, some of them located in the metropolitan centers of New York and the rest on the periphery. They will establish whether both sets of firms face similar competitive threats and respond to them in a like manner. They will go on to investigate whether high-performance workplace strategies are as successful-- for the enterprise and for the employees-- outside of the metropolitan centers that pioneered them.

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