Workforce Agility in Operations Management


Workforce agility, the management of labor and personnel capacity and capability for organizations facing unpredictable change is a complex and diffuse area of research that has seen steady contributions in recent decades. Its complexity has to an extent naturally led researchers to focus relatively narrowly on specific aspects of the larger strategic problem. In this paper, we review and classify the literature associated with workforce agility in order to form a foundation for advancing the research and implementation of workforce agility in operations management (OM). We describe a framework for characterizing workforce agility from an OM perspective. The framework shows an agile workforce simultaneously possesses multiple interdependent capabilities benefiting organizations operating in highly uncertain environments. This paper further identifies approaches that the literature has proposed for attaining workforce agility. We analyze mechanisms for enabling workforce agility based on attribute measures used in agility research. Some OM practices are related to workforce agility and have been intensively researched in OM, including workforce flexibility and dynamic workforce planning. While they are potential contributors to workforce agility, gaps are observed between these OM practices and the workforce agility literature. Accordingly, we highlight research opportunities in OM for furthering knowledge regarding workforce agility.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

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Article - Journal

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