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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2020

Da Yang, John Dumay and Dale Tweedie

In 2015, one university student in KC – a small town in regional Australia – unknowingly launched a resistance movement and national debate on modern wage theft. We apply…

Abstract

Purpose

In 2015, one university student in KC – a small town in regional Australia – unknowingly launched a resistance movement and national debate on modern wage theft. We apply labour process theory to analyse accounting's role in this case.

Design/methodology/approach

We study multiple instances of wage theft in one Australian town. This case site reveals how wage theft can emerge in a developed economy with well-established legal and institutional constraints. We use Thompson's “core” labour process theory to analyse accounting's role via two interrelated dialectics: (1) structure and agency and, (2) control and resistance.

Findings

Accounting was “weaponised” by both sides of the controversy: as a tool of employer control and as a vehicle for student resistance. Digital technologies enabled employee resistance to form unconsciously and organically. Proponents mobilised informally, with information and accounting the ammunition.

Social implications

Wage theft affects industrialised as well as developing economies, especially “precarious” workers. We show how accounting can conceal exploitation, but also how – with the right support – accounting can help vulnerable workers enforce their rights and entitlements.

Originality/value

The paper uncovers novel dynamics of exploitation and resistance at work under contemporary economic and technological conditions. Labour process theory can provide a more dialectical perspective on accounting's role in these dynamics, including the emancipatory potential of informal and opportunistic counter-accounts.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1983

R.G.B. Fyffe

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of…

Abstract

This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of industrial and economic democracy, which centres around the establishment of a new sector of employee‐controlled enterprises, is presented. The proposal would retain the mix‐ed economy, but transform it into a much better “mixture”, with increased employee‐power in all sectors. While there is much of enduring value in our liberal western way of life, gross inequalities of wealth and power persist in our society.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 3 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1967

COMPARISONS are often made between the way in which Britain utilises its manpower and the manner in which it is deployed by other major industrial nations. They are…

Abstract

COMPARISONS are often made between the way in which Britain utilises its manpower and the manner in which it is deployed by other major industrial nations. They are generally unfavourable to this country. To recognise the existence of a problem is wise; to devise means to overcome it, especially when it is of such magnitude, is even wiser.

Details

Work Study, vol. 16 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0043-8022

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Book part
Publication date: 15 August 2004

Janet Carson

This study takes the position that the vitality of academic libraries is grounded in the working experiences of its librarians. It suggests that a full understanding of…

Abstract

This study takes the position that the vitality of academic libraries is grounded in the working experiences of its librarians. It suggests that a full understanding of problems facing contemporary information professionals in the post-industrial workplace requires an analysis of the labouring aspects as well as the professional nature of their work. The study of changes in the academic library work experience thus depicts the state of the library, and has implications for other intellectual workers in a social environment characterized by expanding information technologies, constricted economic resources, and the globalization of information production. Academic librarians have long recognized that their vocation lies not only in the classical role in information collection, organization, and dissemination, but also in collaboration with faculty in the teaching and research process, and in the contribution to university governance. They are becoming increasingly active in the protection of information access and assurance of information quality in view of information degradation on the Internet and various compromises necessitated by interaction with third party commercial information producers.

Details

Advances in Library Administration and Organization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-284-9

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Book part
Publication date: 15 October 2020

Martha Crowley, Julianne Payne and Earl Kennedy

Labor process research has documented a shift in the nature of control – from techniques that aim to limit worker discretion to consent-oriented controls that are believed…

Abstract

Labor process research has documented a shift in the nature of control – from techniques that aim to limit worker discretion to consent-oriented controls that are believed to generate greater effort by increasing intrinsic rewards or bonding employees to managers and/or the firm. Over the past several decades, however, growing pressure to increase profits has prompted firms to adopt cost-cutting strategies that have eroded job security, relationships with management and commitment to organizational goals. This study investigates how a changing labor process and rising job insecurity shape workers’ orientations toward work, managers and the firm, and in turn influence workplace behavior. Analyses of content-coded data on 212 work groups confirms that discretion-limiting controls (supervision, technology and rules) are associated with more negative orientations and/or reductions in effort (with variations across distinct forms of control), while investment in workers’ human capital (but not involvement of workers in decision-making) has the reverse effect – ­generating more positive orientations toward work, managers and the firm, and (in turn) promoting discretionary work effort and limiting covert effort restriction. Implications of insecurity are more complex. Both layoffs and temporary employment reduce commitment to the organization, but layoffs generate conflict with management without reducing effort, whereas temporary employment limits effort without producing conflict. We illuminate underlying processes with evidence from the qualitative case studies.

Details

Professional Work: Knowledge, Power and Social Inequalities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-210-9

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Book part
Publication date: 8 April 2013

Amanda K. Damarin

Purpose – Addresses labor control in fields where familiar organizational and occupational controls are weak, notably postindustrial arenas characterized by networks…

Abstract

Purpose – Addresses labor control in fields where familiar organizational and occupational controls are weak, notably postindustrial arenas characterized by networks, heterogeneity, and change.Methodology/approach – Proposes that labor control operates via socio-technical networks composed of diverse ties to social actors, technologies, and typifications. Data from an interview-based study of early website production work is used to examine the impact of such a network.Findings – Socio-technical networks constrained web workers#x02019; actions but also offered opportunities for autonomous discretion. Some shifting between networked and hierarchical controls occurred in larger organizations.Research implications/limitations – The role of networks in the labor process is not well understood; this study provides a starting point.Social implications – Socio-technical networks are heterogeneous and lack common status metrics, making inequality among workers difficult to gauge and address. Further, since networked controls are decentralized, their pressures are not easily identified or resisted by workers.Originality/value – This chapter describes a form of labor control that may characterize some postindustrial fields more closely than traditional models. In addition, it contributes new insights on how work is shaped by technical networks and abstract typifications.

Details

Networks, Work and Inequality
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-539-5

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2011

Richard K. Fleischman, David Oldroyd and Thomas N. Tyson

The aim of this paper is to focus on the transition from slavery to wage workers in the American South and British West Indies, and the corresponding nature of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to focus on the transition from slavery to wage workers in the American South and British West Indies, and the corresponding nature of the reporting and control procedures that were established in both venues, in order to create a disciplined workforce, and establish regular relations between employees and employers. It seeks to explain the differences in labour control practices between the two regions and to discuss the impact on these practices of accounting and other quantitative techniques c.1760-1870. In particular, it aims to consider the central role played by government in the process.

Design/methodology/approach

The study forms part of an archival research project, in which the authors have consulted archives in four Southern States (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina), three Caribbean island nations, formerly British colonies (Antigua, Barbados, and Jamaica), and record repositories the length and breadth of Great Britain. The records of the Freedmen ' s Bureau (FB), located in the National Archives, Washington, DC, have been likewise visited. These primary sources have been supported by the extensive secondary literature on slavery and its aftermath.

Findings

In the USA, accounting for labour in the transition from slavery was typically ad hoc and inconsistent, whereas in the BWI it was more organised, detailed, and displayed greater uniformity – both within and across colonies. The role of the British Colonial Office (BCO) was crucial here. A range of economic and political factors are advanced to explain the differences between the two locations. The paper highlights the limitations of accounting controls and economic incentives in disciplining labour without the presence of physical coercion in situations where there is a refusal on the part of the workers to cooperate.

Originality/value

There is a relatively small volume of secondary literature comparing US and BWI slavery and its legacy. Likewise, the accounting implications of labour-control practices, during the transition from slavery to freedom, are largely understudied. The research also points to a need to assess the decision-influencing capabilities of management accounting systems in other transitional labour settings.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 6 March 2017

Grazia Ietto-Gillies

This paper aims to analyse the organizational and geographical (by nation-states) boundaries of the firm and their impact on labour and to develop a theoretical framework…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyse the organizational and geographical (by nation-states) boundaries of the firm and their impact on labour and to develop a theoretical framework in which firms’ boundaries are analysed from the point of view of labour as a main stakeholder in the firm.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper considers the boundaries in terms of: perspectives (legal/proprietary, responsibility and control); stakeholders (shareholders and managers as well as labour, governments and suppliers) and dimensions (organization of production, geographical/by nation-state and sectoral). The paper analyses various organizational forms of production in terms of control (over labour process and brand), responsibility for labour employed across the value chain and labour bargaining power. The firm is seen in the context of labour as main stakeholder and of strategic control versus the property rights view of the firm. The paper contains references to some real-life cases which support the arguments developed at the theoretical level.

Findings

In terms of organizational boundaries, the paper analyses hybrid forms of firm organization and their implications for the position of labour. In the context of geographical boundaries, conclusions are drawn on the impact of transnational corporations (TNCs)’ direct activities on labour. Changes in organizational and geographical boundaries are seen as strategic moves that lead to the fragmentation of labour and to the weakening of its bargaining position. There is an analysis of the role of nation-state regulatory regimes in creating opportunities for TNCs’ advantages towards labour. The basic pillars of this theoretical approach are emphasis on labour as a main stakeholder as well as one of the main actors towards whom firms develop strategies and who, in turn, develops countervailing strategies; and the assignation of responsibility for labour over that part of the value chain – which could be the whole of it – over which the firm exercises strategic control.

Research limitations/implications

More case study work would further support the arguments in the paper and lead to refinements of the theory.

Social implications

For labour, cross-country strategies are developed, and it is argued that the principal firm should take responsibility for the labour force on the basis of the “control” perspective rather than the “legal/proprietary” one. At the macro level, it could be argued for policies that lead to more homogeneous regulatory regimes across countries and in particular within the EU. There are implications for the strategies of trade unions within and across countries. There is also a call for overcoming academic disciplinary boundaries in research specifically those between economics, business strategy and sociology of labour and industrial relations.

Originality/value

The work puts labour at the forefront of analysis in the boundaries of the firm. It develops a theoretical framework for this analysis and for its policy implications including policies by trade unions.

Details

critical perspectives on international business, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1742-2043

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1986

G.M. Winch

The critique of the neo‐classical theory of the labour market has been growing in strength in recent years. Two main strands can be identified. The American traditions…

Abstract

The critique of the neo‐classical theory of the labour market has been growing in strength in recent years. Two main strands can be identified. The American traditions emphasise the role of the production process of firms or industries, either in terms of its task requirements (Doeringer and Piore 1971), or the mode of labour process control (Edwards 1979). The British tradition emphasises the role of trade unions and the character of the industrial relations system (Rubery 1978; Nolan 1983). By looking at one industry — construction — and thereby controlling for production process and industrial relations system, this article suggests that firm type, in interaction with the product market, is also an important factor in generating non competing labour markets.

Details

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1989

Karen Legge

The monograph analyses (a) the potential impact of informationtechnology (IT) on organisational issues that directly concern thepersonnel function; (b) the nature of…

Abstract

The monograph analyses (a) the potential impact of information technology (IT) on organisational issues that directly concern the personnel function; (b) the nature of personnel’s involvement in the decision making and activities surrounding the choice and implementation of advanced technologies, and (c) their own use of IT in developing and carrying out their own range of specialist activities. The monograph attempts to explain why personnel’s involvement is often late, peripheral and reactive. Finally, an analysis is made of whether personnel specialists – or the Human Resource Management function more generally – will play a more proactive role in relation to such technologies in the future.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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