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Does Information Technology Induce the De-skilling of Contingent Workers?

: Experiences in the Japanese Electrical and Electronic Industry

March 2010
Hiroyuki Chuma *1
Daiji Kawaguchi *2

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Abstract

This paper examines the effect of introduction of information technology driven manufacturing information systems (IT-MIS) to workshops on the usage of contingent workers and subsequent productivity growth based on an unique survey of workshop supervisors of the Japanese electrical and electronic industry. The analysis indicates that the introduction of IT-MIS enhances the variety of tasks performed by contingent workers and induces productivity growth at the workshops. Productivity enhancement at workshops with IT-MIS critically depended on extensive information sharing between regular and contingent workers, as well as between regular workers and designers and/or fabrication engineers. These results indicate that merely introducing IT-MIS does not automatically lead to productivity enhancement. Enhanced productivity depends on the organizational design of communication structures among the affected employees, including contingent workers.

This paper is a revised version of the paper presented at the conference at the Bank of Japan on November 26 and 27, 2009, jointly organized by the Bank of Japan and the University of Tokyo. We gratefully acknowledge comments from Souichi Ohta and participants of the conference. The results in this paper are based on Chuma and Kawaguchi (2007). The views expressed here are solely of authors in their personal capacity.

  • *1 Hitotsubashi University
    E-mail : chuma@iir.hit-u.ac.jp
  • *2 Hitotsubashi University
    E-mail : kawaguch@econ.hit-u.ac.jp

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