Human Factors: Spanning the Gap between OM & HRM
Purpose: This paper examines the claim that the application of human factors (HF) knowledge can improve both human well-being and operations system performance. Methodology: A systematic review was conducted using a general and two specialist databases to identify empirical studies addressing both human effects and operations system effects in examining manufacturing operations system design aspects. Findings: We found 45 empirical studies addressing both the human effects and system effects of operations system (re)design. Of those studies providing clear directional effects, 95% showed a convergence between human effects and system effects (+,+ or -,-), 5% showed a divergence of human and system effects (+,- or -,+). System effects included quality, productivity, implementation performance of new technologies, and also more ‘intangible’ effects in terms of improved communication and co-operation. Human effects included employee health, attitudes, physical workload, and ‘quality of working life’. Research limitations/implications: Future research should attend to both human and system outcomes in trying to determine optimal configurations for operations systems as this appears to be a complex relationship with potential long-term impact on operational performance. Practical implications: The application of HF in operations system design can support improvement in both employee well-being and system performance in a number of manufacturing domains. Originality/value: This paper outlines and documents a research and practice gap between the fields of HF and OM research that has not been previously discussed in the management literature. This gap may be inhibiting the design of operations systems with superior long term performance.
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