Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making



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KEY WORDS: Organizational Structure; Organizational Change; Work Organization; Fordism; Flexible Specialization; Theoretical Problems; United States of America; Change.
Walsworth, S., & Verma, A. (2007). Globalization, human resource practices and innovation: Recent evidence from the Canadian workplace and employee survey. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 46(2), 222-240.
In this article, the authors examine the relationship that connects the degree to which a workplace is internationally engaged, the extent to which it innovates, and the human resource practices it adopts. Pooling various years of data from the nationally representative Canadian Workplace and Employee Survey, the authors found that certain practices, such as variable pay and autonomy training, are more likely to be used in international workplaces. Subsequently, the research found that for an international workplace, the use of variable pay contributes very little to workplace innovation while autonomy training has a positive relationship with innovation.
KEY WORDS: Innovation; WES; Autonomy; Workplace Training; Learning.

Wardell, M. L., Steiger, T. L., & Meiksins, P. (1999). Rethinking the labor process. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.


While paying tribute to Harry Braverman for launching the research field known as the labor process, this book neither eulogizes nor castigates his work. Rather, it takes stock of the field, showing its blend of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and revealing its diverse contributions to the sociology of work, organizations, and stratification. Both U.S. and British authors use this venue as an opportunity to rethink and reinvigorate the labor process field, yet they maintain an intellectual commitment to the spirit with which Braverman wrote his work. They focus on aspects central to the labor process perspective, including management strategies, technology, innovations in the workplace, the value of labor, and control and resistance.
KEY WORDS: Sex Role In The Work Environment; Employees and Effect of Technological Innovations on Division of Labor; Social Conflict; Industrial Relations; Industrial Sociology; Braverman, Harry; Organizational Change; Managerial Strategies; Management; Equality.

Williams, C. C. (2002). A critical evaluation of the commodification thesis. The Sociological Review, 50(4), 525-542.


A recurring theme across the social sciences is that noncapitalist production is disappearing, albeit slowly and unevenly, and is being replaced by a commodified economy in which goods and services are produced by capitalist firms for a profit under conditions of market exchange. In this paper, however, I evaluate critically this commodification thesis. Even in the heartland of commoditization, "the advanced economies" large economic spaces are identified where alternative economic relations and motives prevail. Rather than view them as leftovers of precapitalist formations, this paper argues that they are the result of both the contradictions inherent in the structural shifts associated with the pursuit of commodification as well as the existence of "cultures of resistance." As such, they are viewed as "spaces of hope" that highlight the demonstrable construction and practice of alternative social relations and logic's of work outside profit-motivated market-orientated exchange.

KEY WORDS: Capitalism; Economic Structure; Market Economy; Commodification; Profit Motive; Forces And Relations of Production; Economic Change.

Williams, C. C., & Windebank, J. (2003). The slow advance and uneven penetration of commodification. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(2), 250-264.


A common assumption is that commodification - the process by which goods and services are increasingly produced by capitalist firms for a profit under conditions of market exchange - is colonizing, albeit slowly and unevenly, ever more areas of daily life. Yet little evidence has been supplied to show either the extent or unevenness of this penetration. Here, we first draw on secondary data to evaluate the degree to which the advanced economies have been permeated by commodification. This identifies large spaces of non-exchanged work, non-monetized exchange, and non-profit-motivated monetary exchange. To both explain the existence of these spaces as well as the uneven penetration of commodification, we then report case study evidence from the sphere of domestic services in UK urban areas. This displays that although domestic services are slightly more commodified among higher-income populations, the uneven contours of commodification cannot be explained simply in terms of whether populations can afford to use formal service provision. While economic constraints do prevent the advance of commodification, especially in lower-income populations, strong 'cultures of resistance' are also uncovered that impede its deeper penetration. To conclude, therefore, the contrasting roles played by economic and cultural constraints in slowing the advance of commodification and creating its uneven contours are explored.
KEY WORDS: Commodification; Labor; Capitalist Societies; Exchange (Economics); Forces and Relations of Production; Domestics; United Kingdom; Urban Areas; Commodification; Economic Change.
Winiecki, D. (2006). Discipline and governmentality at work: Making the subject and subjectivity in modern tertiary labour. London: Free Association Books.
In this book, Winiecki investigates how we know ourselves, how we are known by the institutions in which we work, and how we are known by our co-workers and our families. In each instance, the author argues our knowledge is increasingly affected by a constantly changing network of technologies and strategies. In the workplace, these technological forms are lashed together into systems and strategies that reflect a form of rationality, allowing norms to arise: seeing, representing, understanding work and workers. These norms and forms produce distinctly modern forms of subjectivity, 'truth', and power to make workers into subjects. Service labour is the fastest growing form of paid work in the West, with mediation of labour through digital technology also rising at a remarkable rate. Despite these changes, there remain few detailed analyses of subjectivity in technology-mediated tertiary labor. Drawn from ethnographic research using post-structural analytics, this book describes how a collection of technologies is taken up in call centers to produce 'truth', knowledge, power, and modern forms of subjectivity and social subjects. Winiecki also challenges assumptions of Marxian and management theory by demonstrating that workers are neither dominated nor liberated, rather they are made responsible for and caught up in the apparatus that renders them as subjects.
KEY WORDS: Service Work; Subjectivity; Technology; Restructuring; Power; Knowledge.

Wood, G., & James, P. (Eds.). (2006). Institutions, production, and working life. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.


This collection of articles examines the link between working life and the nature of production on the one hand, and the changing organization of the firms and institutions in which work and production take place. Leading socio-economic theorists analyze how these have changed over the last two decades, looking at changing employment practices and systems of work and linking these to political, social, and institutional reforms. Some of these reforms include the degree of continuity and change in working life, the attitudinal and behavioural consequences of recent changes in the world of work, and the implications of these changes for worker health and well-being. Contributions incorporate macro- and micro-level analyses and draw on a range of disciplinary approaches, including regulation, institutional, and labour process theory. Contributors include: Robert Boyer, Rogers Hollingworth, Mick Marchington, Jill Rubery, Ray Hudson, Andrew Sayer, Russell Lansbury, Eddie Webster, Erik Olin Wright, and Jamie Peck.
KEY WORDS: Restructuring; Institutions; Work; Labour Process; LPT; Labour.

Worrall, L., Cooper, C., & Campbell, F. (2000). The new reality for UK managers: Perpetual change and employment instability. Work, Employment and Society, 14(4), 647-668.


Using results from the first three years of a five year UMIST-Institute of Management study, this paper explores the changing nature of managerial work in the UK and the impact of organizational change on managers' sense of loyalty, morale, and motivation. This article discusses the impact of organizational change on surviving managers where redundancy has been used, compared with organizations where redundancy has not been used. The results suggest that if redundancy is to be continually pursued as a method of change, managers should be aware of the damaging implications not only to individuals, but to the culture of the downsized organization.
KEY WORDS: Employment Changes; Organizational Change; Managers; Redundancy; Work Organization; Management; United Kingdom; Organizational Commitment; Organizational Culture.

Wright, C., & Lund, J. (2006). Variations on a lean theme: Work restructuring in retail distribution. New technology, Work and Employment, 21(1), 59-74.


This paper explores restructuring in the distribution operations of large Australian retailers. While known popularly as the 'lean logistics' approach, the research suggests increasing variation in both the technical and social organisation of work. Differences in work organisation reflect variations in management choice, as well as the negotiated nature of workplace change.
KEY WORDS: Lean Production; Workplace Change; Restructuring; Technology; Service Sector.

Yates, C., & Leach, B. (2006). Why 'good' jobs lead to social exclusion. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27(3), 341-368.


In this article, the writers challenge analyses that connect engagement in paid work with social inclusion. The article critiques much of the existing literature for its simplistic connectivity between paid work and social inclusion. Instead for an approach that recognizes the reciprocal and interactive relations among paid work, structural labour market factors and the everyday lives of working people. Using interviews with working people in Canada, this study examines how workers experience control, respect and trust and insecurity in larger contexts such as the labour process, their work-life balance and the labour market. Conclusions suggest that restructuring of work and the labour market have encouraged feelings and life practices that result in isolation, anger and a declining capacity of working people to look after their families and participate in their communities. Contrary, then, to conventional wisdom, engagement in paid work, even so-called 'good' work, can lead to social exclusion for many.
KEY WORDS: Social Exclusion; Work; Restructuring; Social Inclusion; Labour Market; Labour Process; Control; Discipline.

Yen, I. H., & Frank, J. W. (2002). Improving the health of working families: Research connections between work and health. Washington, DC: National Policy Association.


These two papers are presented in the context of recent research on the connections among work, family, and health. Chapter 1 focuses on the changing nature of work, the new economy, and recent demographic trends. Chapter 2 examines the health effects of job security, income, work organization, health and pension benefits, work schedules, workplace stress, occupational health, socioeconomic status across the life course, and family and sick leave. Chapter 3 explores policy options by outlining three possible strategies. Lastly, in the second paper policy makers are urged to adopt policies based on the following principles: work redesign; paid leave and family care; reduced hours and flexibility; women in leadership positions, worker voice, community empowerment; and work-family councils.
KEY WORDS: Access to Health Care; Adjustment (to Environment); Child Care; Employment Practices; Family Health; Family-Work Relationship; Government Role; Health Insurance; Income; Job Security; Policy Formation; Population Trends; Public Policy; Retirement Benefits; Social Science Research; Unemployment Insurance; Wellness; Work Environment; Working Poor; Economic Change; Employment Change.

Zeytinoglu, I. U. (2004). Flexible work arrangements: Conceptualizations and international experiences. New York: Kluwer Law.


In today's world of work, the old standards of fixed hours and location have been substantially weakened. The majority of employers, in fact, prefer to maintain a flexible system of work arrangements that gives them more control over rate of production, assignment of tasks, and economic circumstances. The global development of these new and extensive conditions of employment variously characterized as nonstandard, alternative, peripheral, contingent, or atypical has progressed to a point at which its significance for both employers and employees (as well as for society in general) can be fruitfully analyzed.
KEY WORDS: Work and Learning; Economic Analysis; Workplace Alternatives; Changes in Paid Work.



Section 2.2

Assessments of "Knowledge-based Economy", “Post-Industrial Society”, "New Economy" and Economic Globalization

Alvesson, M. (2004). Knowledge work and knowledge-intensive firms. New York: Oxford University Press.


This book is based on the idea that society is beginning an era characterized by turbulence and rapid technological change. In the following competitive context, information technology has become omnipresent and increasingly important and new organizational forms have surfaced to respond to the new competitive challenges. The "knowledge" intensive firms are one type of these new forms. The increasing significance of this new type of organization relies on the fact that between ten and fifteen percent of the workforce in Europe and North America works in Knowledge Intensive Firms (KIFs). Many scholars and practitioners therefore feel confident in asserting that KIFs have started dictating the world economy.
KEY WORDS: Knowledge Work; KBE; Knowledge Workers; Knowledge Management

Aneesh, A. (2001). Skill saturation: Rationalization and post-industrial work. Theory and Society, 30(3), 363-396.


The proliferation of new information technologies in the US has brought a shift in work skill requirements. Skill formation is located within the framework of rationalization to demonstrate the shift from industrial to postindustrial information work. The focus is on new information technologies that require the worker to interact primarily with electronic text and graphics. "De-skilling" is discussed, followed by an analysis of "skill saturation"; a distinction is made between saturated and unsaturated skills. Changes characteristic of saturated and unsaturated work are identified, including a loss of spaces for play and creativity and a paradoxical intensification of work, despite a decrease in the physical requirements of work. The way skills move from an unsaturated to a saturated state is described in the context of computer programming, and a history of programming languages and skill saturation is advanced. Possibilities of resisting saturation in postindustrial work world are explored.
KEY WORDS: Work Skills; Job Characteristics; Information Technology; Postindustrial Societies; Work Organization; Work Environment; Job Requirements; Employment Changes; Rationalization.

Askenazy, P., & Galbis, E. M. (2007). The impact of technological and organizational changes on labor flows: Evidence on French establishments. Labour [Italy], 21(2), 265-302.


This paper explores the impact of organizational and technological changes on job stability of different occupational categories in France. The researchers conduct an empirical analysis using a representative sample of French establishments. Focusing on various indicators of labor flows (gross labor flows, hiring rate, firing rate, net labor flows, and churning flows), the authors find that new technology tends to increase turnover among manual workers and decrease turnover among clerical workers and intermediate professionals.
KEY WORDS: Technology; Organizational Studies; Job Stability; Labour Indicators.

Atras, P., Garicano, L., & Rossi-Hansberg, E. (2006). Offshoring in a knowledge economy. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(1), 31-77.


The researchers investigate how the formation of cross-country teams affect the organization of work and the structure of wages. To study this question, the authors propose a theory of the assignment of heterogeneous agents into hierarchical teams, where less skilled agents specialize in production and more skilled agents specialize in problem solving. First to be analyzed are the properties of the competitive equilibrium of the model in a closed economy. Second, the equilibrium of a two-country model (North and South) is studied, where countries differ in their distributions of ability, and in which agents in different countries can join together in teams. The authors refer to this type of integration as "globalization." According to the findings, globalization leads to better matches for all southern workers but only for the best northern workers. The results suggest that globalization increases wage inequality among non-managers in the South, but not necessarily in the North.
KEY WORDS: Comparative; Offshoring; Knowledge Economy; Wages; Globalization.

Bach, S., Kessler, I., & Heron, P. (2007). The consequences of assistant roles in the public services: Degradation or empowerment? Human Relations, 60(9), 1267-1292.


This article considers whether and how shifts in the division of labour in the context of organizational change lead to the empowerment or degradation of workplace roles. It focuses on the emergence of assistants in the British public services and, in particular, whether this leads to the degradation or empowerment of those who fill the role and the professionals they work with. Concentrating upon assistant roles in education and social care, case study findings suggest that as these roles develop, the assistants themselves and their co-professionals are empowered to some degree both in terms of their work and employment conditions. However, it notes that these consequences are not unambiguously positive for the stakeholders and vary by sub-sector. The article lends support to those who have argued that changes in the division of labour result in blended and potentially contradictory outcomes for the workers involved. It also contributes to a literature which suggests that outcomes are contingent upon context, proposing that sub-sector conditions can be influential.
KEY WORDS: Assistants; Modernization; Professions; Public Management; Work Organization.

Baldwin, J. R., & Beckstead, D. (2003). Knowledge workers in Canada's economy, 1971-2001. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.


This article examines the emergence of the knowledge economy by examining the increasing importance of high-knowledge occupations over the period 1971-2001. Contrary to the impression that is sometimes given by reports that just emphasize the recent rapid development of the high-tech information and communications technology sector, a more extensive examination of the presence of knowledge workers shows that the emergence of the knowledge economy has been more widespread and continuous than might otherwise be thought. This paper reports that the importance of knowledge occupations has continuously increased over the last three decades. It also examines differences in the changes that have occurred for different knowledge professions—managers, professionals and technical occupations—and for different industries. It finds that the increase in the proportion of the labour force that is classified to knowledge occupations was widespread. It occurred for professionals, managers, and technical occupations. It occurred across most industries. While there are differences in the rates of growth in some areas, the most important conclusion to emerge from the study is that the growth of skills, as proxied by the importance of knowledge occupations, was widespread and not restricted to narrow areas of interest, such as popularly defined high-tech sectors.
KEY WORDS: Canada; Knowledge Economy; Occupation; Industry; Knowledge Workers; KBE.

Beckstead, D., & Gellatly, G. (2004). Are knowledge workers found only in high-technology industries? Ottawa: Ministry of Industry, Canada.


This paper explores the industrial composition of Canada’s Knowledge Economy. It uses a new occupational taxonomy to identify a small set of high-knowledge industries—industries that exhibit proportionately large concentrations of knowledge workers. It then compares these high-knowledge industries with two industrial aggregates that have recently been used to study growth trends in the New Economy: (1) information and communications technology (ICT) industries, and (2) science-based industries. Two basic questions guide our analysis. First, are there industries—beyond those located in science and technology-based environments—that emerge as high-knowledge leaders when statistical estimates of knowledge intensity are based solely on occupational structure? Second, how do the growth and structural characteristics of these high-knowledge industries compare with those that characterize ICT-based environments, sectors that are home to the technology-based firms that develop, deliver and support many of the products and services associated with the New Economy?
KEY WORDS: Knowledge Economy; Knowledge Workers; Canada; Class Analysis; Knowledge Industry.

Beckstead, D., & Vinodrai, T. (2003). Dimensions of occupational changes in Canada's knowledge economy, 1971-1996. Ottawa: Ministry of Industry.


This article examines the increasing importance of high-knowledge occupations over the period 1971 to 1996. It also examines changes that have occurred for different knowledge professions, including managers, professionals and technical occupations, by industry and by geographic area.
KEY WORDS: Knowledge Economy; Knowledge Workers; Knowledge Industry.

Black, S. E., & Lynch, L. M. (2003). The new economy and the organization of work. In D. C. Jones (Ed.), New economy handbook (pp. 545-563). San Diego: Academic Press.


Although considerable research has focused on the role of investments in information and communication technologies in the "new economy," this chapter argues that an additional component of the new economy includes changes in workplace practices. Over the past decade, more firms have adopted "knowledge-based" work processes in which nonmanagerial workers are involved in problem solving and identifying opportunities for innovation and growth. Workplace innovations such as teamwork, incentive-based compensation, employee participation in decision-making, and training have raised the productive capacity of firms, impacted the wages of workers, and affected the demand for skilled labor. This chapter summarizes the empirical evidence on the impact of workplace innovation on a new economy and the implications for public policy.
KEY WORDS: Economic Analysis; Workplace Alternatives; New Economy.
Blom, R., Melin, H., & Pyoria, P. (2002). Social contradictions in informational capitalism: The case of Finnish wage earners and their labor market situation. The Information Society, 18, 333-343.
Along with the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs), work processes are becoming ever more knowledge intensive. In keeping with this trend, the number of informational (or knowledge) workers in Finland has more than tripled from 12% in 1988 to 39% in 2000. What makes the Finnish case unique and interesting is the exceptional speed with which the information sector of the economy has grown. A few years after facing the most severe economic recession in its history in the early 1990s, Finland is now considered to have an advanced information economy. However, our empirical analysis—based on survey data from 1988, 1994, and 2000—yields a somewhat more critical picture of the Finnish information society than what usually comes across in the mainstream media. The opportunities for social equality offered by the growth of informational work are far more limited than was the case with the transition from agricultural to industrial production.

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