Modern Management and the Demand for Technical Skill

This paper examines the relationship between modern management practices and the demand for different occupational skills utilizing a unique context in South Korea after the Asian financial crisis. Management practices in South Korea had traditionally emphasized the organizational harmony over individual performance, and firm growth over short-term profits. However, as South Korea opened up to foreign firms after the financial crisis, domestic firms started to adopt western or more "modern" management practices. Using the industry level variation in management practices generated by the average industry management index of five advanced economies (the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy), Lee finds that modern management increases the demand for technical skill. Moreover, modern management practices help achieve various organizational changes that utilize information technology. He also finds that performance measured as the return on asset increases with modern management practices, and document the complementarity between modern management practices and technical workers in increasing the return on assets. In short, this paper finds that modern management practices may increase the earnings difference between skilled - in particular, technically skilled - and unskilled workers.