ERIC Number: ED402461
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
In Search of the High Road in a Low-Wage Industry.
Bailey, Thomas R.; Bernhardt, Annette D.
IEE Brief, n14 Nov 1996
A study examined the effects of high-performance innovations on workers and job quality by conducting six case studies of firms that had implemented reforms in both the production and the service end of their operations. All the firms were in the traditionally low-wage retail industry. These case studies were drawn on to examine, first, the nature and range of firm restructuring in the retail industry and, second, the effect of these strategies on several dimensions of job quality. An important cluster of innovations was found in each of the two functions of retailing--merchandising and selling. Although all the companies had performed well during the period of human resource reforms, the causal link between those reforms and stronger performance was far from clear. These effects on job quality were identified: creation of somewhat more interesting and varied jobs; few changes in wages and benefits for sales staff; and declining career mobility for some groups of workers through the emergence of a two-tiered job structure. Findings suggested the following: the spread of the high-performance workplace was limited; the low road may be more efficient in some contexts; the high road could be low wage; and the better jobs went to recruits with more skills and education. (YLB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Collected Works - Serials
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Grant (W.T.) Foundation, New York, NY.; Department of Labor, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Columbia Univ., New York, NY. Inst. on Education and the Economy.