Working in Restructured Workplaces: Challenges and New Directions for the Sociology of Work


Edited by: Cornfield, Campbell & McCammon

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Reconfiguring Workplace Status Hierarchies

    Part II: Casualization of Employment Relationships

    Part III: Restructuring and Worker Marginalization

    Part IV: Comparative Labor Responses to Global Restructuring

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    The death of William H. Whyte, Jr. in 1999 seemed to signify the end of one era of employment relations and the advent of another. In his 1956 classic, The Organization Man, Whyte announced the demise of the individualistic entrepreneur and the entry of the “organization man” who sought belongingness in the large corporation through a lifetime career of mutual commitment with his employer. The emergence of the organization man in the 1950s symbolized the dawning of the bureaucratic employment relationship. As Whyte's New York Times obituary put it,

    Mr. Whyte's book challenged and refuted claims of entrepreneurial vigor and daring in business by describing an ongoing bureaucratization of white-collar environments—board rooms, offices, laboratories. … Mr. Whyte wrote that corporate norms based on the pursuit of safety and security and characterized by conformity had spread to academic and scientific institutions and prevailed in the white-collar suburbs then proliferating across America.1

    What is more, the arrival of the organization man, and of the organization woman (with women's increasing employment in the corporate environment), deeply influenced the image of employment relations that has pervaded social scientific research on social relations and career mobility in the workplace. It is inside the bureaucratic workplace, among the organization women and men who work in a single “internal labor market,” where social scientists have typically researched the formation of work attitudes and work group cohesion, the sources of worker productivity, and inequality in pay, job security, and prospects for career mobility.

    Whyte's death then, it seems, marks the passage of an era of bureaucratic, corporate employment relations. Increasingly, the workplace is populated by a contingent workforce of parttime and temporary workers, independent contractors, and other workers employed in transient relations with their employers. As managers respond to mounting global economic competitive pressures and collective bargaining and the decline in labor union membership as a percentage of the national labor force, more and more employment relations emerge as casual, low-paying arrangements that marginalize contingent workers from their higher paid full-time coworkers. In many workplaces, we are witnessing the emergence of a dual or two-tiered workforce that may further indicate an erosion of the workplace community and internal labor market that have shaped social relations and the career mobility chances of organization men and women. Indeed, these changes in the workplace have been accompanied by increasing income polarization in the United States over the past 30 years.

    Yet contemporary workplace restructuring consists of contradictory tendencies. The recent diffusion of self-supervised work groups and production teams in many workplaces is consistent with Whyte's imagery of bureaucratic, corporate employment relations. Already by the 1930s, Elton Mayo had uncovered—in his legendary Hawthorne experiments—the powerful community-and productivity-enhancing benefits of semiautonomous, cohesive work groups. Following Mayo's communitarian lead, Whyte observed that the organization man sought to belong not only to the organization but to small work groups and project teams within the organization. The contemporary spreading of worker self-management, production teams, quality circles, total quality management, and the like continues to shape the workplace community of organization women and men in a manner consistent with that identified earlier by Mayo and Whyte.

    Thus the question arises, will the workplace continue to constitute a community for organization men and women, or will it come to consist of increasingly individualistic employment relations? We, the editorial team of the sociological quarterly Work and Occupations, have assembled this volume, Working in Restructured Workplaces, to address the contradictory nature of contemporary workplace restructuring, its impact on worker livelihoods, and the prospects for future changes in the workplace. This volume consists of works previously published in Work and Occupations and several others commissioned specifically for the book.

    So as to paint a broad portrait of workplace restructuring and to assess its multiple implications for worker livelihoods and actions, we develop a new conceptualization of “workplace restructuring” in our introductory chapter and have organized the chapters of Working in Restructured Workplaces into four major themes, which also are the titles of the four parts of the book:

    • Reconfiguring workplace status hierarchies
    • Casualization of employment relationships
    • Restructuring and worker marginalization
    • Comparative labor responses to global restructuring

    The two concluding chapters present important implications for the agendas of future scholarly, social scientific research on the workplace. These chapters suggest that social scientists should now assume the existence of multiple models of employment relations. Future research ought to be directed at documenting the prevalence and diffusion of employment relations models across industries, occupations, workplaces, and groups of workers of different demographic backgrounds and the impact of these models on worker livelihoods.

    Regardless of its changing, contradictory character, the workplace continues to be an important social arena for the formation of social relations and the determination of career mobility chances. Workplace restructuring has altered the web of employment relations in which people work, compelling social scientists to reexamine their images of the workplace and modify their research agendas accordingly. It is our hope that this volume will both stimulate new scholarly research on workplace restructuring and illuminate how working in restructured workplaces influences worker livelihoods.

    Daniel B.Cornfield
    Karen E.Campbell
    Holly J.McCammon

    1. Michael T. Kaufman, “William H. Whyte, ‘Organization Man’ Author and Urbanologist, Is Dead at 81,” New York Times on the Web, January 13, 1999, Wednesday, The Arts/Cultural Desk,

    Working in Restructured Workplaces: An Introduction

    Daniel B.Cornfield
    Karen E.Campbell
    Holly J.McCammon

    What is workplace restructuring, and what is its impact on workers' livelihoods inside and outside the workplace? The sociology of work addresses the relationships among worker life chances and worldviews, work processes, and the social organization of workplaces and markets. Restructuring of workplaces challenges sociologists of work to examine the many sociological implications of restructuring for the development of social inequality and the nature of the workplace. The purpose of this volume, Working in Restructured Workplaces, is to examine the impact of restructuring on workers and to explore the implications of restructuring for the sociology of work. We hope to encourage new directions for research in the sociology of work that extend and adapt the enduring mission of the sociology of work to workplace restructuring.

    Workplace restructuring coincides with growing income polarization in the United States. Downsizing and displacement of workers, the advent of the contingent, just-in-time workforce, the effacement of middle management, the virtual disappearance of labor unions and collective bargaining, as well as increasing employee involvement in team-based decision making, have accompanied a 30-year trend of income polarization. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1999b), the Gini coefficient, a leading statistical indicator of income inequality in the nation, increased by 15% between 1967 and 1997. Over the same period of time, the percentage of people in poverty changed little, fluctuating between 11% and 15%, but the share of aggregate income received by the 20% of families with the highest incomes rose from 41% to 47% (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999a, 1999c).

    Moreover, workplace restructuring suggests, somewhat ironically, a growing disarticulation between worker and workplace at the same time as the employer devolves more job responsibilities onto a “self-supervised” nonsupervisory workforce (Smith, 1998). In its special report titled The Downsizing of America, the New York Times notes from its 1995 opinion survey of U.S. workers that approximately two thirds of survey respondents felt that employers and employees had become less loyal toward one another over the past 10 years and that coworkers were more competitive than cooperative with one another. Over half of the respondents felt that an “angrier mood” had developed in many workplaces (New York Times, 1996, p. 55). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 1997 national survey of “contingent workers”—that is, “workers who do not perceive themselves as having an explicit or implicit contract with their employers for ongoing employment”—some two thirds of men and women contingent workers preferred a “noncontingent” employment arrangement to a contingent one (Hipple, 1998, p. 28; also see Smith, 1998).

    Social scientific research has documented some consequences of workplace restructuring for workers (Smith, 1998). Organizational downsizing and company closures have displaced workers in a wide range of ailing “smokestack” industries and growing white-collar service industries (Gardner, 1995; Hipple, 1997). Many communities have been devastated by these large-scale displacements (Dudley, 1994; Illes, 1996; New York Times, 1996). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) surveys of displaced workers suggest that ethnic-racial minorities and men tend to be more likely than other workers to be displaced by company closures and other types of involuntary job loss and that displaced women workers are more likely than displaced men to become reemployed with earnings lower than those of their previous jobs (Gardner, 1995; Hipple, 1997). For workers who survive a restructuring and downsizing, organizational paths to success may become chaotic and unclear or disappear altogether, and workers may become demoralized, emotionally stressed and burned out, and disaffected from their employers (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996, pp. 3–13; Cappelli et al., 1997, pp. 195–203; Hirsch, 1993; Osterman, 1996, pp. 1–20; Schellenberg, 1996; Smith, 1998).

    While economic inequality has increased as with workplace restructuring, the ways in which restructuring may be producing inequality are not entirely clear, for four reasons. First, as a set of new and variegated employment relations, restructuring itself is unclear. The U.S. Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations (a.k.a. the “Dunlop Commission”) was appointed recently by the U.S. Secretaries of Labor and Commerce to encourage the development of productive, cooperative and participatory employment relations. In its final report, the Commission (1994) argued that changes in work organization have clouded the meaning of the employment relationship and blurred the lines of authority in the workplace:

    New forms of organizing work, new workplaces (including work at home), new work relations (including with customers), new work hours, and new legal forms have emerged and become more common in which there is ambiguity and often no clear responsibility for training, health and safety, benefits, legal obligations, and the other societal demands of the workplace. These new and more diverse relations raise questions about the definitions of employee and employer, supervisor and professional used in labor relations and employment law. (pp. 1–2)

    Second, the socioeconomic status of workers in “nonstandard or alternative employment arrangements” is complex and not straightforward (Barker & Christensen, 1998; Ferber & Waldfogel, 1998; Hipple & Stewart, 1996). On one hand, those who work in alternative employment arrangements (e.g., contingent work, independent contracting) are much less likely than those employed in “standard” or “traditional” full-time steady situations with one employer to be covered by employer-provided fringe benefits. In 1997, according to the BLS, 53.9% of “noncontingent workers” but only 20.7% of contingent workers and 7.0% of temporary help agency workers were covered by employer-provided health insurance; 44.2% of noncontingent workers but only 14.8% of contingent workers, 10.4% of temporary help agency workers, and 3.6% of independent contractors were included in an employer-provided pension plan. Furthermore, the 1997 median weekly earnings of full-time contingent workers were 12% to 23%lowerthan those of full-time noncontingent workers within all gender and major ethnic-racial groups (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998b, 1998c).

    Yet, on the other hand, the earnings of workers employed in different types of nonstandard employment arrangements and of diverse demographic backgrounds vary widely in relation to those of workers employed in standard or traditional employment situations (Cohany, 1996, 1998). Among full-time workers in 1997, for example, the median weekly earnings of male “workers provided by contract firms” were 19% greater than those of men employed in “traditional arrangements”; for female workers, however, the earnings of those who were provided by contract firms were 2.4% less than those of women in traditional arrangements. Considering the ethnicity-race of full-time workers, the median weekly earnings of White and Hispanic “independent contractors” exceeded those of White and Hispanic workers in traditional arrangements by 10% to 19% in 1997; the median weekly earnings of Black independent contractors, however, were 11% lower than those of Blacks employed in traditional arrangements (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998c).

    Third, the magnitude of the socioeconomic impact of displacement on workers varies over time but does not appear to be moving either upward or downward. The BLS calculates changes in the median weekly earnings of workers who were displaced from their fulltime wage and salary jobs due to plant and company closures and relocations, abolition of positions, and other causes and who were reemployed one to three years after their displacement. Over the period of its 1994, 1996, and 1998 surveys of reemployed displaced workers, the BLS found that the percentage of reemployed displaced workers whose earnings at least equaled those of their lost jobs shifted from 52.9% to 46.6% to 55.2%, respectively; the percentage of displaced workers whose earnings at reemployment were at least 20% lower than those of their lost jobs changed from 31.2% to 33.9% to 24.9%, respectively (Gardner, 1995; Hipple, 1997; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998d).

    Fourth, the impact of workplace restructuring on economic inequality is unclear because of the absence of longitudinal data on the prevalence and diffusion of workplace restructuring in the national economy. We lack long-term time series data on changes in the employment relationship and in the organization of production and managerial decision making in workplaces. Consequently, it is difficult to monitor and assess the degree of association over time between work place restructuring, on one hand, and indicators of economic inequality, on the other hand, much less compare the magnitude of the effects of restructuring and other causes of economic inequality (on methodological issues in researching restructuring, see Ichniowski, Kochan, Levine, Olson, & Strauss, 1996).

    In order, therefore, to examine the nature of workplace restructuring and its impact on economic inequality, it is important to reexamine the meaning of fulfilling work and productive employment relationships as the workplace is restructured. Sociologists have begun to clarify the nature and impact of workplace restructuring (Castillo, 1997; Gamst, 1995; Leicht, 1998; Smith, 1997, 1998; Vallas, 1999). We, the editorial team of the sociological quarterly Work and Occupations,1 have witnessed a growing number of manuscript submissions and books about workplace restructuring. This line of research has pertained to a wide range of topics about restructuring—its nature, variations, determinants, and consequences for worker livelihoods and employment relations. It signaled to us the import of restructuring for the sociology of work.

    Indeed, restructuring compels sociologists of work to revisit basic assumptions of workplace bureaucracy and employment relations that underlie much of the sociology of work. Revisiting these assumptions, furthermore, compels sociologists of work not only to examine understandings of the structure of workplaces but also to examine the nature and impact of workplace restructuring on worker livelihoods.

    “Workplace restructuring” is a term with multiple meanings. If sociologists of work are to analyze effectively this transformation of workplaces, we must first define the changes and examine their implications for the mission and practice of the sociology of work.

    What is “Workplace Restructuring”?

    We conceive of “workplace restructuring” as a three-dimensional transformation of workplace social structure. As we discuss shortly, the three dimensions are devolution of decision making, casualization of the employment relationship, and a shift from collective bargaining to individual bargaining. To develop this three-dimensional perspective of workplace restructuring, we first elaborate on the concept of workplace social structure, describe recent concrete instances of restructuring, and then critically review the image of bureaucracy that underlies much of contemporary sociology of work.

    Kalleberg and Berg's (1987) definition of “work structures” captures the meaning of workplace social structure that many sociologists of work use implicitly:

    These are the rules on which many people have agreed and thus legitimated, for longer or shorter periods, as effective means of solving the economic and political problems of production and distribution. Work structures also represent the hierarchical orderings of persons and clusters of interests, configurations of norms, and the rights and obligations that characterize the relations among different types of actors in the economy. (p. 2, emphasis added)

    Kalleberg and Berg (1987) emphasize six concrete work structures: nation-states, industries, business organizations, occupations, classes, and unions. In light of the recent institutionalization of transnational arrangements for global economic integration, such as the European Union, MERCOSUR among the Southern cone nations of South America, and NAFTA, we add “transnational economic institutions” to Kalleberg and Berg's list of work structures that influence the functioning and outcomes of labor markets and labor-management relations and are associated with “restructuring” (Cornfield, 1997a).

    Contemporary workplace restructuring constitutes a reconfiguration of the sociological image of “bureaucracy” that developed in the 1950-1980 era and that inheres in much contemporary scholarship in the sociology of work. The image of bureaucracy that is embedded in contemporary research in the sociology of work derived from Max Weber's classic essay on bureaucracy and responded to the advent of the large-corporate, oligopolistic economy in which mass production occurred in bureaucratic, Fordist-Taylorist organizations. Several writers during the 1950s developed bureaucracy as an image of economic institutions and labor processes in industrial nations in which an individual employee, unlike the disappearing individualistic entrepreneur, would become immersed in an organizational community. Referring to his fabled “organization man” in 1956, William H. Whyte, Jr., wrote,

    It is the organization man … who most urgently wants to belong. … The group that he is trying to immerse himself in is not merely the larger one—The Organization, or society itself—but the immediate, physical group as well: the people at the conference table, the workshop, the seminar, … the project team. … Where the immersion of the individual used to be cause for grumbling and a feeling of independence lost, the organization man of today is now welcoming it. (pp. 46–47)

    In this image, bureaucracy was a formal organization that consisted of a pyramidal authority structure; a complex occupational division labor with highly specialized jobs arrayed in a maze of career lines; potent informal work groups that influenced worker attitudes and productivity; mass production technology; and unionization. The stability and structural stasis of this bureaucracy rested on U.S. manufacturing and financial dominance in the world market and a strong industrial labor union in the workplace and industry. In this bureaucracy, a worker, independent of collar color, typically expected job security with long-term prospects of upward career mobility at the same employer. The bureaucracy of the 1950s became the emerging arena for upward social mobility and for claiming prestige. As C. Wright Mills put it in 1951,

    The fetishism of the enterprise, and identification with the firm, are often as relevant for white-collar hirelings as for managers. This identification may be implemented by the fact that the work itself … offers little chance for external prestige claims and internal self-esteem. … In identifying with a firm, the young executive can sometimes line up his career expectations with it, and so identify his own future with that of the firm's. (pp. 243–244)

    It is this image of worker, work, and workplace that pervaded Miller and Form's (1951) Industrial Sociology, a text that pioneered and guided the sociology of work for the next quarter-century (also see Smith, 1998).

    Beginning in the early 1970s, this image of bureaucracy was modified in four ways in response to growing sociological interest in organizational career and social mobility processes, the demographic diversification of the labor force, and the globalization and transnationalization of economic production. First, with the publication of Doeringer and Piore's (1971) Internal Labor Markets and Manpower Analysis, sociologists borrowed the concept of internal labor market from institutional economics in order to explain more precisely how the structure and functioning of bureaucracy shaped individual careers, especially long-term careers at the same employer. Second, with the publication of Men and Women of the Corporation, Kanter (1977a) elaborated on the image of bureaucracy as an institutional arena culturally imbued with societal norms about group relationsand roles, such as gender roles. These norms effectively created minority and token employees whose work attitudes and career prospects were constrained by a bureaucracy managed by White men. Third, in Work and Family in the United States, Kanter (1977b) argued that organizational careers and work attitudes were shaped not only by workplace factors but also by important mutually causal relations between the workplace and the family. Fourth, with the publication of Cole's (1979) Work, Mobility, and Participation on U.S. Japan differences in organizational careers and work attitude formation, bureaucracy came to be seen as a work institution whose organization and organizational impact on workers derived partly from societal values about work and self-society relationships and from state regulation of labor and economic processes.

    Notwithstanding this evolution of the image of bureaucracy since the 1950s, the current dominant image forged by the 1970s among sociologists continues to assume that bureaucracy is a stable and structurally static institution that houses and shapes important processes of social mobility and work attitude formation. Yet by the 1980s, proclaimed Leinberger and Tucker (1991), the stable economic basis of the organization man qua model had eroded, leading to “his” retirement from the corporate bureaucracy. In their study of the children of the same organization men whom Whyte had interviewed for his 1956 book The Organization Man, Leinberger and Tucker (1991) argued that

    under the pressure of global competition and advances in communication technology, there have appeared almost overnight new organizational forms that are the antithesis of the centered, functional hierarchies elaborated during the era of the organization man. … Many organizations now more closely resemble the decentered networks of which the organizations are a part. … Increasingly, the model of organization is coming to be that of the network, with constantly shifting nodes of power and influence, often geographically distant from each other, but tightly linked by communications. (pp. 332, 334)

    As for the contemporary social mobility prospects and career paths of the children of the organization men, Leinberger and Tucker (1991) wrote that

    many of the organization offspring certainly appear to take bold risks; they change jobs and even careers with startling frequency, choose where they want to live and only then look for work, desert orthodox career paths in favor of fashioning their own situations, and prize personal freedom over job security and creativity over productivity. … The children, utterly lacking their fathers' loyalty to a specific organization but under no illusions about how the world's work gets done, will be antiorganization but not antiorganizational, more inclined to join many ever-shifting networks than to seek a niche in one immortal hierarchy. (pp. 18, 21)

    “Workplace restructuring” has assumed a specific historical meaning about contemporary changes in the organization of workplaces (Smith, 1998). In his review of recent scholarship on restructuring, Leicht (1998, p. 37) highlights six concrete forms of restructuring:

    • Flattening of organizational hierarchies
    • Growing use of temporary workers
    • Extensive use of subcontracting and outsourcing
    • Massive downsizing of the permanent workforce
    • A postunionized bargaining environment
    • Virtual organizations that exist as webs of technologically driven interaction

    Sociologically, we argue, contemporary workplace restructuring is a three-dimensional change in the structure of the bureaucratic workplace. The three dimensions of change may or may not occur together in a particular workplace and do not necessarily cohere logically as a unified strategy of organizational change (Drago, 1998). These changes are typically implemented by a corporate management attempting to reduce production costs and increase decision-making flexibility in an increasingly volatile and uncertain product market (Osterman, 1996; Rubin, 1996; Smith, 1997; Vallas, 1999; Vallas & Beck, 1996).

    The first dimension of workplace restructuring—the devolution of decision making—pertains to the shape of the authority structure and occupational division labor of the bureaucratic workplace. As Leicht (1998) suggests, the flattening of organizational hierarchies in “postTaylorist/Fordist” directions entails the shift in production decision making, and to a lesser extent personnel decision making, away from middle management and first-line supervision toward self-supervised shop-and office-floor teams of nonsupervisory workers.

    The extent and degree to which devolution of decision making has occurred, as well as its impact on occupational skill levels, are subject to scholarly estimation and speculation (Appelbaum & Batt, 1994; Cappelli et al., 1997; Crompton, Gallie, & Purcell, 1996; Nissen, 1997; Osterman, 1996; Smith, 1997; Vallas, 1999). Estimates of the progress and prevalence of devolution depend on its empirical operationalization and the characteristics of the sample used to observe devolution (Ichniowski et al., 1996). The 1993 BLS Survey of Employer Provided Training in some 6,000 private, nonagricultural U.S. business establishments is one of the most comprehensive national surveys of work organization. According to this survey, 42% of establishments practiced at least one of the following types of decentralized decision making: worker teams, total quality management, quality circles, peer review of employee performance, worker involvement in purchase decisions, and job rotation (Gittleman, Horrigan, & Joyce, 1998, p. 104). Decentralized decision making is most likely to be instituted in large organizations (Gittleman et al., 1998; Marsden, Cook, & Kalleberg, 1996; Osterman, 1994). Presently, it is difficult to track the depth and diffusion of the devolution of decision making partly because insufficient scholarly attention has been given to several important features of decision-making decentralization within the firm. These features of decentralization include the frequency with which it is practiced, the range of policy domains to which it is applied, the organizational level of authority that makes final, binding decisions, and the proportion of the firm workforce that makes decisions.

    To the extent it has occurred, devolution constitutes a decentralization of the authority structure and a “craftist” simplification of the occupational division of labor of bureaucracy. It is decentralization in that more formal decision-making authority is lodged at lower levels of the authority structure than in the Taylorist bureaucracy. Devolution simplifies the occupational division of labor by effectively enlarging the range of production tasks and responsibilities of production and frontline service jobs, reminiscent of pre-Taylorist craft organization.

    The second dimension of workplace restructuring is the casualization of the employment relationship inside the bureaucratic workplace. The internal labor market was predicated on the mutual expectations of employer and employee that the employee would remain employed for much of his or her career in a single employer. What is more, the internal labor market assumes implicitly that coworkers work with one another on the same physical premises rather than being dispersed widely in telecommuting and other “virtual” relationships via electronic media (e.g., e-mail and beepers). With fringe benefit generosity, promotion chances, and job security accruing with employment seniority, the successful full-time employee could expect upward career mobility and a retirement pension; the employer could expect employment stabilization, few interruptions in production that resulted from employee turnover, and the development of an on-the-job trained workforce.

    The advent of the contingent “just-in-time” workforce, outsourcing to parts and businessservice suppliers, knowledge-and productivity-based compensation systems, and other “nonstandard or alternative work arrangements” constitute a declining commitment to the seniority-based internal labor market and a growing casualization of the employment relationship (Arthur & Rousseau, 1996; Barker & Christensen, 1998; Barry & Crant, 1994; Cappelli et al., 1997; Cornfield, 1997b; Herzenberg, Alic, & Wial, 1998, chap. 7; O'Reilly & Fagan, 1998; Osterman, 1996; Rubin, 1996; Tilly, 1996). Much like the workers in the prebureaucratic, casual employment relationship that preceded the internal labor market at the beginning of the 20th century (Cornfield, 1997b; Jacoby, 1985), the growing numbers of part-time and temporary workers, self-employed homeworkers, and independent contractors lack long-term mutual commitments and relationships with their multiple, short-term, and often “virtual” employers. In this casual employment relationship, employer and employee have a limited engagement with one another, and the employer typically provides no fringe benefits to the contingent worker. What is more, the full-time worker no longer expects to ascend a single corporate career ladder. In the casual employment relationship, the full-time worker achieves upward career mobility through a series of interfirm job shifts during his or her career. More scholarly research needs to be directed at discerning (a) the extent to which workers opt for the schedule flexibility associated with casual employment relations or default into these casual employment relations and (b) the role of management in instituting casual employment relations (Barker & Christensen, 1998; Gonos, 1998; Hipple, 1998; Jurik, 1998; O'Reilly & Fagan, 1998; Smith, 1998).

    The multiplicity of casual employment relationships complicates the calculation of the prevalence of casualization. Four BLS concepts—multiple jobholding, part-time work, contingent work, and alternative employment arrangements—can be used to operationalize casual employment relationships and track their diffusion. The percentage of the employed who worked multiple jobs declined from 5.5% in 1956 to 4.5% in 1974 and then rose to 6.0% by 1998 (Jacobs, 1997, pp. 68–69; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1983, p. 114; 1999a, p. 211). Parttime employment as a percentage of employment increased from 14.0% to 17.7% between 1968 and 1998 (Jacobs, 1997, p.45; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1999a, p. 184). Using the BLS's three definitions of contingent workers,2 contingent workers composed 1.9% to 4.4% of employment in 1997 (Hipple, 1998, p. 23). The BLS's alternative employment arrangements, as opposed to its “traditional arrangements,” are workers paid by temporary help agencies or contract companies, on-call workers, and independent contractors (Hipple, 1998, p.35; for definitions of alternative employment arrangements, see Cohany, 1998, p. 4.; Cohany, Hipple, Nardone, Polivka, & Stewart, 1998). According to the BLS, workers in alternative employment arrangements accounted for 9.9% of employment in 1997 (Cohany, 1998, p. 4).

    The future direction of casualization is uncertain for two reasons. First, little or no scholarly research has addressed the ambiguous interpretation of the youthfulness of contingent workers. Workers 16 to 24 years old are much more likely than older workers to prefer contingent work over noncontingent work and to be employed as contingent workers (Hipple, 1998). It is unclear whether this reflects a growing age-generational shift in preferences for contingent work or an enduring conception of this age group in each cohort that contingent work constitutes a temporary way station in the life cycle. Second, BLS occupational employment forecasts suggest that on-the-job training is likely to decline, implying a weakening of the rationale for firm-specific internal labor markets. The BLS projects that employment in jobs that require short-, moderate-, and long-term on-the-job training will grow by only 8.7% to 13.3% between 1996 and 2006 and that jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or more formal education will increase by 18.0% to 25.4% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998a). This suggests that casualization will continue if employers externalize job training and the occupational division of labor shifts in favor of occupations whose incumbents have historically been trained and licensed by government, educational, professional, and occupational institutions rather than by employers. More scholarly research, therefore, should be addressed to the evolution of labor-supply processes and institutions (Gonos, 1998).

    The third dimension of workplace restructuring is the shift from collective bargaining to individual bargaining over the terms of employment (Edwards, 1993; Freeman, 1994). This shift is signified by the decline in the percentage of the national labor force that belongs to unions. From its all-time high of 35.5% in 1945, the percentage unionized declined to 13.9% in 1998 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1979, p. 507; 1999b). Union decline has resulted from several forces, including employer resistance to unionization and limited demand for unionization among workers (Stern & Cornfield, 1996).

    In the absence of a union and labor agreement, workers bargain individually with their employers. Formal individual bargaining tactics and strategies include quitting voluntarily, litigation and acquiescence (U.S. Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations, 1994). Moreover, collective bargaining and litigation may be deployed in tandem (McCann, 1994). Informal individual bargaining may take a variety of legal and extralegal forms. Informal types of individual bargaining tactics include noncollegial behavior and deviant behavior such as sabotage and workplace violence (see, for example, the February 1999 special issue of Work and Occupations on “Crime and the Workplace”). Little scholarly attention has been given to the prevalence of formal and informal individual bargaining and the extent to which deviant behavior in the workplace may have arisen with the decline of collective bargaining (for an exception, see Hodson, 1995).

    We close this introduction to our volume on working in restructured workplaces with the observation that this three-dimensional contemporary workplace restructuring challenges sociologists who study the workplace to reexamine the image of bureaucracy developed before the present wave of workplace restructuring. Restructuring also challenges researchers to widen their mission to encompass the rate, extent, and variations in workplace restructuring and the impact of workplace restructuring on worker life chances and the quality of employment relations.

    Workplace Restructuring: Its Implications for Research in the Sociology of Work

    In assembling Working in Restructured Workplaces, we have reprinted Work and Occupations articles and commissioned several new ones that address the nature, causes, and consequences of workplace restructuring.3 We organized the chapters according to four broad themes that suggest new directions for research in the sociology of work. These themes, identified as Parts I through IV in the table of contents, address the transformations in workplace status hierarchies and employment relations that are associated with workplace restructuring. The conclusion consists of two chapters that chart new research agendas on the extent and durability of workplace restructuring.

    Part I, “Reconfiguring Workplace Status Hierarchies,” treats the implications of workplace restructuring for the reproduction of existing status hierarchies and the development of new hierarchies in the workplace. Among the varied research issues addressed by these chapters are the ways in which managers cope with contradictory employment systems that emerge when permanent and temporary workers labor side by side; the impact of reorganization and new technology on worker skill levels, unequal employment relations, and upward career mobility; the circumstances shaping worker assessments of status hierarchies during restructuring; the implications of legal policies for earnings differentials; and the outcome of transferring one set of workplace hierarchies into an alternative cultural environment.

    Part II, “Casualization of Employment Relationships,” assesses the factors that promote and erode long-term employment relations. Two chapters focus on the experiences of self-employed workers, particularly women; two others explore the history of and recent changes in the Japanese system of permanent employment. All four may be read through a lens of gender: In the United States, women and men follow different routes into self-employment, and self-employed women are—like other groups of women—disproportionately responsible for child care, whereas in Japan, no matter the current state of the practice, permanent employment has not been available to women nor even to all men. Thus, trends in the longevity and formality of employment relations cannot be understood adequately without attention to the ways in which these trends reinforce existing privilege and disadvantage.

    Part III, “Restructuring and Worker Marginalization,” considers the impact of workplace restructuring on interpersonal relations in the workplace, worker emotional states, and individual coping strategies. Its seven chapters, while varied, draw our attention to the negative consequences for individual workers (and for coworkers and management) of alienating workplace structures and practices, which affect a broad range of workers and threaten even self-employed physicians. Marginalization of workers is often signaled by their exclusion from decision making, limited interaction with others on the job, and lack of understanding about the purpose of their daily activities. More positively, some of the research in Part III demonstrates the good that can come from structures and practices that afford workers the resources with which to do their jobs well, voices in decision making, and opportunities to interact constructively with coworkers.

    Part IV, “Comparative Labor Responses to Global Restructuring,” discusses labor's responses to the dramatic changes in the global economy. Its five chapters represent diverse approaches to understanding labor's actions in an era of international competition and corporate flexibility, yet all have some common themes running through them. A key concern of this section is with the implications of broad political and economic contexts for labor's responses. Many of the chapters consider the consequences for workers and labor movements of national or transnational policies. Some of the work presented here views, for instance, new global trade policies as providing opportunities for labor to turn its focus to more international concerns. Another theme developed in these chapters highlights the role of the economic context for labor's willingness and ability to respond to corporate strategies designed to respond to increasingly competitive international markets.

    Finally, the volume's two concluding chapters present complementary agendas for research on the trajectory of, and variations in, workplace restructuring. In Chapter 23, Paul Hirsch and Charles Naquin address the implications of restructuring for the system of career mobility. Their research agenda rests on the assertion that the restructured workplace has not fully supplanted the bureaucratic, “organization man” system of careers in the firm-specific internal labor market. Hirsch and Naquin suggest that the variations in institutionalized career patterns that have resulted from workplace restructuring necessitate a reformulation of theories of careers.

    In Chapter 24, Arne Kalleberg concludes that restructured workplaces themselves are sufficiently diverse and pervasive to indicate a variety of new avenues of research on their consequences for work organization, employment relations, and interorganizational relations. He details three types of firm “flexibility,” each of which raises research questions:

    • The institution of functional flexibility has implications for the direction of worker control.
    • The establishment of numerical flexibility implies that nonstandard employment arrangements may influence worker life chances and socioeconomic status.
    • The advent of flexible network organizations raises questions about interorganizational trust relations and relationship durability.

    The new sociological research on workplace restructuring will illuminate the nature and durability of workplace restructuring. Moving the sociology of work in this direction will generate theoretical insights about institutional change in the workplace and its consequences for worker livelihoods and life chances, as well as policies for tackling problems associated with working in restructured workplaces.


    1. Daniel Cornfield, Karen Campbell, and Holly McCammon have been Editor, Book Review Editor, and Deputy Editor, respectively, of the journal Work and Occupations since 1995.

    2. The three BLS definitions of contingent workers range from narrow to broad. The narrowest excludes the self-employed and independent contractors and consists of wage and salary workers who expect to work in their current job for one year or less and who had worked for their current employer for one year or less. The next broader definition includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, temporary help, and contract company workers. The broadest definition removes the one-year duration and tenure requirements. For further elaboration, see Hipple (1998, pp. 34–35).

    3. The commissioned chapters in order of appearance in this volume are authored by Vicki Smith (Chapter 1), Beth Rubin and Brian Smith (Chapter 17), Paul Hirsch and Charles Naquin (Chapter 23), and Arne Kalleberg (Chapter 24).

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  • About the Contributors

    Roy J. Adams is Professor Emeritus of Industrial Relations at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. He has written extensively on international and comparative employment issues. Currently, his research is focused on the emergence of an international consensus regarding human rights in employment and its implications for labor policy and practice.

    Linda H. Aiken is Claire M. Fagin Professor of Nursing and Sociology and Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Her primary research interests concern the effects of the organization of health care on the outcomes of patients and health professionals.

    Marietta L. Baba is Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair and founding director of the Business and Industrial Anthropology Graduate Sequence at Wayne State University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of organizational culture and technological innovation.

    Terry Boswell is Professor of Sociology and Department Chair at Emory University. Recent publications include (with Chris Chase-Dunn) The Spiral of Capitalism and Socialism: Toward Global Democracy (2000) and (with Cliff Brown) “The Scope of General Theory” in Sociological Methods and Research (1999). His current research focuses on revolutions, inequality and growth, and international union organizing.

    Elizabeth K. Briody is a cultural anthropologist employed by General Motors Research and Development Center. Her title is Staff Research Scientist. Her field research has focused on employees, including product development personnel, material handlers, and expatriates. Her current work examines strategic alliances and global product programs.

    Mauricio Bustos received his master's degree in regional development from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico. He is currently working in the Baja California State Government at the Ministry of Economic Development.

    Karen E. Campbell is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology at Vanderbilt University. She (with Holly McCammon) is studying state woman suffrage movements and is also interested in gender differences in social networks, attitudes toward gender inequality, and the state regulation of nurse practitioners.

    Deborah Carr is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Assistant Research Scientist in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on the psychological consequences of work and family roles over the life course. She is currently using quantitative and qualitative data to examine career transitions at midlife. She also studies widowhood among older adults.

    Mariah Mantsun Cheng is Research Associate in the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research interests are in demography, social mobility, applied statistics, and quantitative methodology. Besides her work in labor market studies, her recent research is on health-risk behaviors of disabled adolescents.

    Oscar Contreras is Director of the Industrial Relations Program at El Colegio de Sonora and editor of the Mexican academic journal Región y Sociedad. He is author of Global Companies, Local Actors and presently is completing a book on the reorganization of the TV industry in North America and conducting a project on the impact of the Internet in regional development in Mexico.

    Lindsay Cooper is a Lecturer in Anthropology and Women's Studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Her current research interests include organizational anthropology and sex differences in various aspects of social work.

    Daniel B. Cornfield is Professor of Sociology and Department Chair at Vanderbilt University and editor of Work and Occupations. His research addresses labor movement revitalization, workplace restructuring, employment relations, and cross-national patterns in the intellectual history of the sociology of work. His most recent book is (with Toby Parcel) Work and Family: Research Informing Policy (Sage, 2000).

    Frederic C. Deyo is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Brockport and Honorary Professor/Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His current research interests include economic development, labor movements, industrial organization, and industrial subcontracting. His most recent book is Economic Governance and the Challenge of Flexibility in East Asia (2000).

    Deborah M. Figart is Professor of Economics at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, New Jersey. She is a founding member of the International Association for Feminist Economics. Her current research is on working time, living wages, pay equity, and other labor market policies in the United States.

    W. Richard Goe is Associate Professor of Sociology at Kansas State University. His research focuses on the implications of the growth of the service sector and the development of computers and information technology for labor processes, corporate and industry structure, and communities.

    Paul M. Hirsch is James Allen Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Organization Behavior in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He has written extensively about careers and organizational change. He is a “Distinguished Scholar” of the Organization and Management Theory Division of the American Academy of Management and former chair of the American Socio-logical Association's Section on Occupations, Organizations and Work.

    Randy Hodson is Professor of Sociology at Ohio State University. He is author of Working With Dignity (2001), coauthor (with Teresa A. Sullivan) of The Social Organization of Work (3rd edition, 2001), and editor of the JAI Press annual series Research in the Sociology of Work. His research interests include both coworker and worker-management relations.

    Timothy J. Hoff is Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at the State University of New York at Albany. His research examines the changing work lives and roles of physicians under managed care. This work has appeared in a variety of sociological and health care journals. Currently, he is planning a project on medical errors within the physician training culture and looking at collective representation within medicine.

    Richard Hyman is Professor of Industrial Relations at the London School of Economics, founding editor of the European Journal of Industrial Relations, and president of the Research Committee on Labor Movements of the International Sociological Association. His research interests include labor movements, political economy, European integration, and industrial relations. His most recent book is Understanding European Trade Unionism (Sage, 2001).

    Nancy C. Jurik is Professor of Justice Studies at Arizona State University. Her publications focus on gender and work organization. With Susan Ehrlich Martin, she published Doing Justice, Doing Gender: Women in Law and Criminal Justice Occupations (Sage, 1996) and presently is writing a book on U.S. microenterprise development.

    Arne L. Kalleberg is Kenan Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His current research focuses on: U.S. organizations' use of flexible staffing arrangements; cross-national differences in the job rewards and work attitudes of nonstandard (especially part-time and temporary) workers versus regular full-time workers; and what companies can do to promote work-life balance.

    Martin Kenney is Professor of Human and Community Development at the University of California, Davis and Senior Project Director at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy. His research includes the transfer of industrial relations systems overseas, the development of high-technology regions, and the venture capital industry. Understanding Silicon Valley is his most recent book.

    June Lapidus is Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Policy Studies at Roosevelt University. Her current research interests include welfare reform and the economics of education. She to works with the Center for Popular Economics in an attempt to keep alive an alternative to market mania.

    James R. Lincoln is Spieker Professor in the Haas School of Business and Director of the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author (with Arne Kalleberg) of Culture, Control, and Commitment: A Study of Work Organizations and Work Attitudes in the U.S. and Japan (1990) and numerous articles on Japanese economy and society.

    Anthony C. Masi is Vice Principal (Information Systems and Technology) and a member of the Department of Sociology, McGill University. He is also a Research Fellow at the Italian National Statistics Institute (ISTAT). Utilizing labor force and general social surveys, he is conducting research on flexibility in the Italian labor market.

    David P. McCaffrey is Professor of Public Administration and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany. He studies organizational processes in financial markets and other sectors and is author (with David Hart) of Wall Street Polices Itself (1998) and other related books and articles.

    Holly J. McCammon is Associate Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. She has studied the U.S. labor movement, particularly the ways in which labor law has influenced the movement and in turn been utilized by labor, and currently is studying the U.S. women's suffrage movement. Work on these topics is forthcoming in the journals Work and Occupations, American Sociological Review, and Gender & Society.

    Yoshifumi Nakata is Professor of Industrial Relations at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He has published extensively on Japanese labor topics and is a frequent consultant to national labor unions and government agencies.

    Charles E. Naquin is Assistant Professor of Management in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. His current research interests include negotiation, teams, and the role of technology in organizational behavior.

    Jackie Krasas Rogers is Assistant Professor of Labor Studies and Industrial Relations, Sociology, and Women's Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on nonstandard employment and gender and racial inequalities at work. She is author of Temps: The Many Faces of the Changing Workplace (2000).

    Jairo Romero is currently a consultant on labor relations issues in Davis, California. His research has focused on labor-management relations in maquiladoras.

    Catherine E. Ross is Professor of Sociology at Ohio State University. She studies the effects of socioeconomic status, work, family and community on men's and women's physical and mental health and their sense of control versus powerlessness. She is currently working on the second edition of her book with John Mirowsky, Social Causes of Psychological Distress.

    Beth A. Rubin is Associate Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Associate Professor in the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. In addition to her research on employment and reemployment in the new economy, she is examining organizational change and its relationship to the 24/7 economy.

    Kathryn Schellenberg is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, Flint. Her areas of scholarly research include workplace instability, impacts of information technologies on policing, and organizational justice. She has also served as editor of Annual Editions: Computers in Society.

    Douglas M. Sloane is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Associate Professor of Sociology at the Life Cycle Institute at Catholic University of America, and Social Science Analyst at the U.S. General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C.

    Brian T. Smith is a contingent sociologist finishing up his second year as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Loyola University in New Orleans. While to date his research interests have centered on employment relationships, he currently is examining the social implications of the increasingly large familial caretaker population associated with victims of Alzheimer's disease.

    Michael R. Smith is Professor of Sociology at McGill University. His recent publications have dealt with trends in employment security and the effects of employment security. His current research examines the effects of technology and globalization on employment and on earnings inequality.

    Vicki Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis. Her book Crossing the Great Divide: Worker Risk and Opportunity in the New Economy (2001) analyzes and compares new forms of work and employment relations in diverse occupational settings.

    Joseph Smucker is Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. His publications include works on the history of industrialization in Canada, philosophies of management, labor unions, and labor markets. He is currently a member of a research team studying business practices of firms in foreign countries.

    Dimitris Stevis is Associate Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University. His research focuses on international environmental and labor politics and policy. His recent work has appeared in Journal of World-System Research, Strategies, and Environmental Politics. He coedited The International Political Economy of the Environment: Critical Perspectives, Volume 12 of the IPE Yearbook (2001).

    Ian M. Taplin is Professor of Sociology and International Studies at Wake Forest University and Visiting Professor of Management at ESC in Toulouse, France. Current research interests include strategies of work restructuring and technological innovation in the clothing industries of high-wage economies, the changing contours of employment relations, and comparative management systems.

    Axel van den Berg is Professor of Sociology at McGill University. His recent research has focused on the sociology of labor markets, the debates about rational choice theory in the social sciences, contemporary sociological theory, and a cross-cultural comparison of aesthetic criteria of visual art.

    Marylyn P. Wright works as a market researcher for Fitch Inc., a design consultancy firm in Columbus, Ohio.

    James R. Zetka, Jr. is Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany. He is author of Militancy, Market Dynamics, and Workplace Authority (1995) and is currently writing a book that examines the impact of competition within the medical division of labor on the development of video surgery.

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