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Labor Disputes and Productivity in Japan and the United States

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  • Economics

Abstract

Labor Disputes and Productivity in Japan and the United States This PDF is a selection from an out-of-print volume from the National Bureau of Economic Research Volume Title: Productivity Growth in Japan and the United States Volume Author/Editor: Charles R. Hulten, editor Volume Publisher: University of Chicago Press Volume ISBN: 0-226-36059-8 Volume URL: http://www.nber.org/books/hult91-1 Conference Date: August 26-28, 1985 Publication Date: January 1991 Chapter Title: Labor Disputes and Productivity in Japan and the United States Chapter Author: Alice C. Lam, J. R. Norsworthy, Craig A. Zabala Chapter URL: http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8455 Chapter pages in book: (p. 411 - 435) 14 Labor Disputes and Productivity in Japan and the United States Alice C. Lam, J. R. Norsworthy, and Craig A. Zabala 14.1 Introduction The quantity of effective labor in the work force depends not only on the number of workers employed but on how hard they work. Many explanations of the superior performance of the Japanese economy stress this fact. Japanese workers seem more dedicated and motivated than their American counter- parts. We examine this phenomenon by comparing the effects of worker atti- tude on productivity and production costs in the U.S. and Japanese manufac- turing sector. The findings suggest that worker attitude affects economic growth.' In analyzing the effects of worker behavior on automobile industry per- formance-total factor productivity, labor productivity, and total unit cost- for the 1959-76 period, we simulated the effects of a 10% improvement in worker attitudes on industry performance (Norsworthy and Zabala 1985b). We found that positive changes in attitudes would have resulted in substantial cost savings over the last two decades. In 1976, for example, the estimated cost savings for automobile manufactures were approximately $5 .O billion. We also investigated worker-attitude effects on the shadow value of total cap- ital input, ass

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