Recent studies hypothesize that the adoption of advanced manufacturing technology (AMT) leads to changes in the composition of the labor force in favor of workers with higher skill levels. Furthermore, employee development and empowerment strategies are enacted to promote these changes. Some of this literature also suggests that when examining these effects, it is important to distinguish between linked AMT and integrated AMT. The purpose of this study is to examine these issues using a comprehensive, firm-level survey of technology adoption and human resource management strategies. The nature of these data enables us to examine compositional and empowerment changes that occur in the aftermath of technological change. Our findings indicate that AMT adoption is associated with an overall downsizing of the firm and a shift in labor composition in favor of workers with higher skill levels. It appears that skill upgrading of the workforce occurs after new technologies are implemented on the factory floor. We also find that human resource strategies that accompany these changes vary by category of technology adoption. Linked AMT appears to be associated with a greater emphasis on employee empowerment. Conversely, compositional shifts toward managerial, technical, and R&D personnel are greater for integrated AMT. The implications of these findings for workforce and human resource strategies are discussed.
- Advanced manufacturing technology
- Employee empowerment
- Employee recomposition
- Human resource strategy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering