Gestão & Produção
Gestão & Produção
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Brazilian sugarcane agro-industry human resources’ management: strategies to increase work intensity

Leonardo Ferreira Reis 1 Francisco José da Costa Alves 2

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The sugarcane agro-industry complex of São Paulo State, Brazil, has undergone significant technical and organizational changes over the last two decades. The harvest mechanization process increased the work productivity and reduced drastically the workforce employed in the sector, requiring modern human resources practices to manage work in this new technical basis. The objective of this study is to analyse how the São Paulo state sugarcane complex human resources management (HRM) practices can increase the work intensity in agricultural production. The primary data of this study was obtained with a questionnaire applied to 38 HR managers of sugarcane companies and with 18 semi-structured interviews to the sector workers and managers. The payment based on production is a traditional HRM strategy in the sector to increase productivity, and its efficiency is conditioned to the capacity of the managers to recruit and control the workforce. Therefore, in this article, the analysis focused on payment, recruitment and training programmes. Data analysis indicate that, generally, the HRM practices logic is to reward workers with higher productivity levels and punish those who flee from behavior patterns and commit deviations of quality. Even so, the heterogeneity HRM structure in sugarcane agro-industry is evident, since companies with different types of management have specific priorities. The central conclusion is that the work intensification still can be an issue in sugarcane agro-industrial complex as the variable remuneration is used to punish and reward workers based on quality and productivity indicators. The effects of this intensification process for machine operators health must be analyzed in further researches.


Human resources management; Agricultural HRM; Working conditions; Payment based on production; Variable remuneration; Work intensification process
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