Seoul Journal of Economics
[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 16, No. 4, pp.387-422
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 30 Nov 2003
Received 02 Oct 2003 Revised 01 Mar 2004

Multiskilling and Firm Performance

Yong-Min Kim ; Ki Seong Park
Associate Professor, Division of Business Administration, Kookmin University, Seoul, 136-702, South Korea, Tel: +82-2-910-4538
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Sungshin Women's University, Seoul, 136-742, South Korea, Tel: +82-2-920-7154, Fax: +82-2-928-4077

JEL Classification: J24


In this study, we examined uncertainty factors and human resource management practices that foster multiskilling of the workforce and the effect of multiskilling on labor productivity growth of the firm. An empirical analysis of 206 Korean manufacturing firms in 22 three-digit KSIC's showed the following results. First, two uncertainty factors, the product- demand variability in the industry and the occurrence of abnormal situations at the workplace, were positively associated with multiskill formation in the sample firms. Second, human resource management practices such as mutual learning among coworkers, delegation of authority, and interworkshop mobility were positively associated with multiskill formation. Third, the degree of multiskill formation was positively associated with the firm's labor productivity growth from 1988 to 1993. Fourth, uncertainty had an indirect impact on labor productivity growth only through multiskill formation. When both uncertainty and multiskilling were included in the regression models, uncertainty had no impact on labor productivity growth. Fifth, we found growth effect of multiskilling but no level effect after controlling other factors.


Multiskilling, Human resource management practices, Environmental uncertainties, Labor productivity, Firm growth


Ki Seong Park is the corresponding author. The authors would like to thank anonymous referees for helpful comments. The work of the first author was supported by the Research Program 2004 of Kookmin University. The work of the corresponding author was supported by the Sungshin Women's University Research Grant of 2003.


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