Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The objective of this research was to investigate potential determinants of the productivity of CAD (Computer Aided Design) operators. In particular the managers' implementation techniques, the individual's motivation, skills and role clarity and the technical quality of the CAD system were proposed as potential influences.;The research was conducted at 25 Canadian sites in the manufacturing and resource sectors. Both survey and interview techniques were employed.;The major findings were: (1) operators using CAD for drafting achieve higher productivity ratios than those using it for design alone; (2) productivity gains are not primarily a function of how long the equipment has been installed; (3) it takes an operator an average of 4.73 months to achieve a 1:1 productivity ratio with CAD compared to manual methods; (4) most CAD operators had little experience with computers before system adoption; (5) companies selected relatively senior employees to implement CAD but junior employees acheived more productivity gains with CAD than senior employees; (6) 70% of CAD operators reportedly achieved productivity gains with CAD. However, these gains were modest on average (45%) in comparison with those promised by vendors and technical journals; (7) payback can rarely be achieved through labour productivity gains alone. In addition, not one of the 25 laid off personnel because of CAD; (8) selection of younger, highly motivated, achievement-oriented individuals with some computer experience and a felt need for change was the most important predictor of CAD operator productivity; (9) organization of the CAD department so there were clear standards and guidelines, role clarity, and communications links to other departments was another important predictor of productivity; (10) dedicated operators (who spend a large proportion of their total working time using CAD) are more productive than those who rotate onto the system; (11) the type of system, its cost, its vendor, or its installation date had no significant effect on productivity; (12) The technical quality of the CAD system (defined by 13 commonly recommended characteristics) had less effect on productivity than motivational variables; (13) top management support of CAD was not a predictor of operator productivity.; Implications for both theory and managerial practice were drawn. Motivation theory was found to be highly useful in the prediction of CAD operator productivity. Change theory was less useful, although this result may have been a function of the methodology employed.



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