Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Industrial Engineering

Committee Chair

Karwowski, Waldemar, 1953-

Author's Keywords

Human performance; Agile production; Cognition; Quality of work life


Human-machine systems; Automation--Human factors; Quality of work life; Job satisfaction; Psychology, Industrial


This dissertation examines a research objective associated with human performance in agile production systems, with specific attention towards the hypothesis that system outcomes are the causal result of worker human cognition and quality of work life attributes experienced in an agile production system. The development and adoption of world class agile production systems has been an immediate economic answer to the world-wide competitive call for more efficient, more cost-effective, and more quality laden production processes, but has the human element of these processes been fully understood and optimized? Outstanding current literature suggests that the recent movements toward higher standards in systems outcomes (i.e. increased quality, decreased costs, improved delivery schedules, etc) has not been truly evaluated. The human-machine interaction has not been fully comprehended, not to mention quantified; the role of human cognition is still under evaluation; and the coupling of the entire production system with respect to the human quality of life has yielded conflicting messages. The dissertation research conducted a longitudinal study to evaluate the interrelationships occurring between system outcomes, applicable elements of human cognition, and the quality of work life issues associated with the human performance in agile production systems. A structural equation modeling analysis aided the evaluation of the hypotheses of the dissertation by synthesizing the three specific instruments measuring the appropriate latent variables: 1. system outcomes – empirical data, 2. human cognition – cognitive task analysis, and 3. quality of work life – questionnaires into a single hypothesized model. These instruments were administered in four (4) waves during the eight month longitudinal study. The study latent variables of system outcomes, human cognition, and quality of work life were shown to be quantifiable and causal in nature. System outcomes were indicated to be a causal result of the combined, yet uncorrelated, effect of human cognition and quality of work life attributes experienced by workers in agile production systems. In addition, this latent variable relationship is situational, varying in regards to the context of, but not necessarily the time exposed to, the particular task the worker is involved with. An implication of this study is that the quality of work life attributes are long-term determinants of human performance, whereas human cognition attributes are immediate, activity based determinants of human performance in agile production systems.