On the Interface between Operations and Human Resources Management

16889 WordsJan 12, 201368 Pages
Commissioned Paper On the Interface Between Operations and Human Resources Management John Boudreau • Wallace Hopp • John O. McClain • L. Joseph Thomas ILR Human Resource Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853 IEMS Department, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208 Johnson School of Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853 Johnson School of Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853 jwb6@cornell.edu • hopp@northwestern.edu • jom1@cornell.edu • ljt3@cornell.edu O perations management (OM) and human resources management (HRM) historically have been very separate fields. In practice, operations managers and human resource managers interact primarily on administrative issues…show more content…
By helping workers to understand the implications of the OM design for their work and then motivating them to act accordingly, the plant turned around its performance. But simply acknowledging human considerations such as motivation is not enough. Consider the case of a circuit-board plant of a large computer manufacturer that was also plagued by low throughput. Recognizing that worker contributions were essential, management embarked on a motivational campaign, which included shirts, pep talks, and illuminated signs with slogans such as “I love my job.” Not only did these efforts fail to promote higher output, but also the workforce was put off by them and became cynical about improvement efforts in general. Eventually, the circuit-board plant adopted an alternate approach, which made use of both OM and a more sophisticated understanding of motivation. It included training the workers to understand key success variables of pull systems, investment in additional capacity that gave work teams more ways to share and combine tasks, and installation of new control systems that the workforce understood. Throughput was doubled within months; total cycle time was slashed by three-quarters in a year. The lesson from this story is that a clear operational focus can be critical to the success of human relations initiatives. Only when the workforce
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