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Process and performance optimization strategies by labor -intensive, small- and medium-sized industries: Cross-cultural cases from America and NigeriaEmeka Odiaka
Labor-intensive, small- and medium-sized industries (SMI) have difficulty times remaining profitable in today's highly competitive business environment. The problems faced by these industries are twofold: The existing high-tech performance optimization techniques, such as TQM, Six Sigma, and Business Process Reengineering are not only expensive but have also proved ineffective. Appropriate techniques the SMIs could use are generally lacking. The purpose of this study was (1) to explore how low-tech, labor-intensive performance optimization strategies were used by four SMIs in culturally diverse environments of the United States and Nigeria, and (2) based on that information, to develop a people processing model to suit the needs of the SMIs globally. The research used a mixed grounded theory qualitative case study methodology. Data were collected through interviews and on the job observation of 40 managers and workers in two service and two manufacturing organizations. Special attention was paid to the level of importance participants attached to performance optimization challenges, best people processing practices, and the role of motivational programs in organizational effectiveness. The data were subjected to rigorous content analysis through open, axial, selective, and conditional coding. Despite their cultural differences, the four SMIs seemed to use similar people processing strategies. The analysis led to the development of a model (I2CARE) indicating low-cost best practices for employee motivation and mobilization to optimize performance. The social change implications of the study involve (1) learning from human resource management practices in culturally diverse climates, and (2) contributing to the viability of labor-intensive SMIs who may choose to incorporate the I2CARE model in their human resource management practices.
Social sciences; Labor-intensive; Labor-intensive, small and medium-sized industries; Nigeria; Performance improvement strategies; Performance optimization; Performance-optimization; Process improvement techniques; Process optimization; Small and medium-sized enterprises; United States; Management; Organizational behavior; Organization theory; Small & medium sized enterprises-SME; Business conditions; Profitability; Cross cultural studies; Models; Best practice; Motivation; Human resource management; 0703:Organizational behavior; 0703:Organization theory; 0454:Management
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