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An examination of high-performance work skills among manufacturing workers in one Pennsylvania metropolitan statistical area

by Shafer, Ronald J.

Abstract (Summary)
The high-performance model (also known as the high-involvement, flexible, democratic, participative, or high-commitment model) is one workplace re-design innovation being considered by American manufacturers in response to increasingly intense global competition. Front-line workers in such environments assume tasks and responsibilities far different from those performed in a traditional factory. In order for companies to successfully pursue this high-performance option, they must have a workforce qualified in the necessary skills. This study examined the occurrence and distribution of fifteen skills associated with the high-performance/high-involvement model within an existing manufacturing workforce. A worker-centered survey was used to collect the data. The objective was to determine the frequency of the skills within the sample and the distribution of the skills across ten selected variables. Further, the study sought to determine the feasibility of predicting, though the use of logistic regression, which cohorts of workers would be most likely to possess the skills. The skills identified in the study represent an additional skill set beyond the basic employability and job-specific skills required in traditional work environments. This additional layer of skills is termed Level 3 (with basic employability skills being Level 1 and job-specific skills Level 2). Level 3 includes knowledge of such competencies as decision making, problem solving, systems thinking, team skills, and self-directed learning. iv The concept of the high-performance workplace is an evolving one; many questions about the practices and demands of these settings are being researched and debated. This study investigated concepts relevant of the high-performance workplace and offers an overview of the current status. The findings indicate a high degree of confidence among the 237 respondents in using the Level 3 skills. This degree of confidence was evidenced without regard to the variables of gender, age, educational level, tenure with the current employer, or total years of experience in the workforce. It was likewise unaffected by the company-related variables. When subjected to logistic regression analysis, only three of the variables (education level, experience, and age) were significant. The attempt to assign the cases to membership in either a traditional work skills group or a high-performance work skills group was frustrated by the unexpected homogeneity of the sample. The study provokes additional research questions about the sources of the skills that the workers profess to have, the validity of the knowledge level implied by the responses, and the variables that do allow the desired classification into the groups discussed above. v
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:manufacturing industries pennsylvania

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