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Despite the appeal of studying successful organizations, valuable tools have also been developed by social scientists for understanding organizations that fail. This study…
Despite the appeal of studying successful organizations, valuable tools have also been developed by social scientists for understanding organizations that fail. This study applies one such tool − a model of stages of decline − to the case of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations), an organization that has arguably been in decline for decades. The AFL-CIO is an interesting case due to the lack of agreement among key constituencies about the appropriate criteria for measuring organizational performance. Reformers and conservatives have struggled over this issue, each viewing the conflict over performance criteria as crucial in determining who will ultimately control the organization. As the AFL-CIO has moved through successive stages of decline, struggle over the organizational mission has grown increasingly intense, finally leading to the exit of major constituencies. This study confirms the value of the concept of stages of decline, and underscores the role of internal politics, especially in a non-profit organization, in setting the criteria for evaluating performance.
At the turn of the twentieth century, various Socialist parties vied for a place in the American political system, making alliances where possible and convenient with…
At the turn of the twentieth century, various Socialist parties vied for a place in the American political system, making alliances where possible and convenient with elements of organized labor. Robert Franklin Hoxie, an economist at the University of Chicago whose principle contributions lay in his writings on the labor movement, wrote a series of essays in which he scrutinized the activities of the Socialist Party of America as it appeared to be at the time poised to become a viable force in American politics. This essay examines Hoxie’s writings on the conventions of the Socialist Party within the context of the political dynamic of the period and reveals his interpretations of events based on contemporary accounts and first-hand observations.
The future of unions hangs in the balance. Labor unions face enormous challenges to overcome decades of decline and diminishing power. The authors examine the current…
The future of unions hangs in the balance. Labor unions face enormous challenges to overcome decades of decline and diminishing power. The authors examine the current status of unions with an eye toward identifying pathways to rejuvenation. Our analysis focuses on what the authors know about the decline of unions, how its compares historically, and what avenues are available to unions to change. Pathways to growth with undoubtedly require breaking old molds, which have proven ineffective. Unions need to explore new models of representation to take advantage of a changing workforce with new employment relationships typified by the “gig economy.” The authors present an agenda for fruitful research and discuss the implications of a weakened labor movement on the well-being of society.
Robert Franklin Hoxie was of the first generation of University of Chicago economists, a figure of significance in his own time. He is often heralded as the first of the…
Robert Franklin Hoxie was of the first generation of University of Chicago economists, a figure of significance in his own time. He is often heralded as the first of the Institutional economists and the impetus behind the field of labor economics. Yet today, his contributions appear as mere footnotes in the history of economic thought, when mentioned at all, despite the fact that in his professional and popular writings he tackled some of the most pressing problems of the day. The topics upon which he focused included bimetallism, price theory, methodology, the economics profession, socialism, syndicalism, scientific management, and trade unionism, the last being the field with which he is most closely associated. His work attracted the notice of some of the most famous economists of his time, including Frank Fetter, J. Laurence Laughlin, Thorstein Veblen, and John R. Commons. For all the promise, his suicide at the age of 48 ended what could have been a storied career. This paper is an attempt to resurrect Hoxie through a review of his life and work, placing him within the social and intellectual milieux of his time.
Unions representing 40 percent of union membership broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005 to form a rival federation, Change to Win (CTW). CTW leaders argued that the AFL-CIO…
Unions representing 40 percent of union membership broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005 to form a rival federation, Change to Win (CTW). CTW leaders argued that the AFL-CIO placed too much emphasis on politics and too little on organizing new workers. This study looks at the potential impact of the split on laborʼs political action in lobbying and electoral mobilization. It examines differences between Change to Win and AFL-CIO affiliates in their political action committee spending, their support of Democrats, and their overall political spending on lobbying and electoral mobilization and concludes that CTW unions are no less reliant on political action than AFL-CIO unions and are likely to continue their involvement in politics.
The paper aims to expand the public service principle to cover labour and worker organizations in the communication industry. It also aims to demonstrate the value of…
The paper aims to expand the public service principle to cover labour and worker organizations in the communication industry. It also aims to demonstrate the value of labour convergence as an instrument to advance the interests of knowledge workers and the public interest in communication.
The paper draws from conceptual debates around the nature of knowledge labour and of convergence. It draws from interviews and documentary evidence to determine the value of trade union convergence and new forms of worker organization in the communication industries.
The paper finds that communication workers are engaging in their own form of convergence and are using it to advance the public service principle in knowledge labour. In doing so, they are expanding the public interest in communication.
The paper is one of the only studies that connects the public service principle and convergence to knowledge and communication workers. It demonstrates that, despite significant challenges, these workers are a significant force in the communication arena.
This paper examines the labor policies of the United Typothetae of America (UTA) from its birth in 1887 through the late 1920s and argues that labor policy differences…
This paper examines the labor policies of the United Typothetae of America (UTA) from its birth in 1887 through the late 1920s and argues that labor policy differences among its members (personified by two prominent New York City-based printing employers, Theodore DeVinne and Charles Francis) created a “house divided” that not only prevented it from creating and maintaining a unified labor policy but also ultimately led to its demise as an employers' association and reconstitution primarily as a trade association. It will do so by analyzing key episodes in the UTA's labor history to show how the two competing labor philosophies – DeVinne's absolute authority & independence and Francis's stability & order – interacted with industry conditions – intense price competition, a decentralized industry structure, proprietor autonomy, the relative power of unions, and economic conditions – to impact the UTA's labor policies and its institutional survival. The UTA's experience reveals the diversity of American employers' experiences as well as the challenges that they have faced when attempting to act collectively in the industrial relations arena. Moreover, recent IR research on employers' associations around the world also reveals that, as unions have declined in power, many also are shifting their focus away from labor relations to other member services.
The purpose of this paper is to add information on which voices contributed to the scientific management narrative from Frederick Taylor’s 1915 death to the early 1930s…
The purpose of this paper is to add information on which voices contributed to the scientific management narrative from Frederick Taylor’s 1915 death to the early 1930s with a focus on the role of labor union representatives. The strategy is to analyze the role of labor representatives as participants in Taylor Society meetings and publications. The research contributes to the management history literature by bolstering the picture of the Taylor Society as a liberal, pro-labor organization. The research also shows that the Taylor Society was an early proponent of the idea that assembling diverse groups for dialogue improves organizational problem-solving.
The research analyzes historical sources including all issues of the Society’s bulletin from 1914 to 1933 and unpublished material from the Morris Cooke papers and the papers in the Frederick Taylor archive at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Taylor Society leaders took a proactive view of encouraging labor voices to join managers and academics in society meetings. At the beginning, few labor leaders spoke at the society, and often, at least some of their comments were critical of scientific management. By 1925, labor participation increased with William Green, American Federation of Labor (AFL) president appearing several times. In addition, labor leaders became positively inclined toward having scientific management experts working in industrial settings. The labor leaders who participated at Taylor Society meetings in the late 1920s and early 1930s considered scientific management insights as useful for labor and wanted to cooperate with the researchers.
The paper augments a revisionist view of interwar scientific management as progressive and pro-labor, a contested point in the management history literature. The research also shows how the Taylor Society was an early proponent of the importance of diversity, at least in the areas of gender and socioeconomic status, for effective problem-solving.