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Purpose – The introductory chapter to this special issue highlights contemporary scholarship on networks, work, and inequality.Methodology – We review the last decade of…
Purpose – The introductory chapter to this special issue highlights contemporary scholarship on networks, work, and inequality.Methodology – We review the last decade of research on this topic, identifying four key areas investigation: (1) networks and hiring, (2) networks and the labor process, (3) networks and outcomes at work, and (4) networks and institutional dynamics.Findings – Social networks play an important role in understanding the mechanisms by which and the conditions under which economic inequality is reproduced across gender, race, and social class distinctions. Throughout the review, we point to numerous opportunities for future research to enhance our understanding of these social processes.
The Internet and social media have fundamentally transformed the ways in which individuals find jobs. Relatively little is known about how demand-side market actors use…
The Internet and social media have fundamentally transformed the ways in which individuals find jobs. Relatively little is known about how demand-side market actors use online information and the implications for social stratification and mobility. This study provides an in-depth exploration of the online recruitment strategies pursued by human resource (HR) professionals. Qualitative interviews with 61 HR recruiters in two southern US metro areas reveal two distinct patterns in how they use Internet resources to fill jobs. For low and general skill work, they post advertisements to online job boards (e.g., Monster and CareerBuilder) with massive audiences of job seekers. By contrast, for high-skill or supervisory positions, they use LinkedIn to target passive candidates – employed individuals who are not looking for work but might be willing to change jobs. Although there are some intermediate practices, the overall picture is one of an increasingly bifurcated “winner-take-all” labor market in which recruiters focus their efforts on poaching specialized superstar talent (“purple squirrels”) from the ranks of the currently employed, while active job seekers are relegated to the hyper-competitive and impersonal “black hole” of the online job boards.
The unprecedented levels of economic inequality in the United States and the rapid expansion of inequality in many other societies across the globe underscore the need for innovative research on the processes and mechanisms that contribute to these inequities. This volume is devoted to theoretical and empirical scholarship on the interplay between social networks and work and the consequences for economic inequality. First, the volume scans the field of research on social networks and work during the last decade and organizes this research into four more-or-less autonomous lines of scholarship that attempt to describe and explain economic inequality for distinct outcomes and contexts. These categories – hiring, labor process, work outcomes, and institutional dynamics – serve as the section headings for the volume. The second goal is to bring together exciting new research in these areas in order to highlight the insights that have emerged from these investigations as well as the potential for future advancements in knowledge and discovery in the field. The hope is that scholars might be able to turn to the contents of this volume for further understanding of what is known about the role that networks play in generating, sustaining, and ameliorating inequality in employment and for inspiring a new generation of scholarship on this important topic.
Old boy networks are exclusive elite networks of white males that afford inside information, facilitate advancement, and provide support to each other. Understanding old…
Old boy networks are exclusive elite networks of white males that afford inside information, facilitate advancement, and provide support to each other. Understanding old boy networks is important because it represents a culturally specific form of cronyism that has significant negative consequences for international business. As a corrective to more optimistic scholarship on the benefits of social networks in organizations – and in line with critical assessments of other network phenomena, such as guanxi – we explore the generic social processes that give rise to old boy networks in society using Social Closure Theory and consider the consequences of old boy networks in organizations through the lens of Relational Inequality Theory. Specifically, we highlight research on network membership and gender, race, and class inequality in hiring, socialization, and assessment. We conclude by discussing the implications of old boy networks for international business.
Purpose – This study develops a theoretical argument that social networks are embedded in the macro-level institutional environment. From the perspective of institutional…
Purpose – This study develops a theoretical argument that social networks are embedded in the macro-level institutional environment. From the perspective of institutional embeddedness, I investigate the changing patterns and implications of social networks in job search and job earnings after China's overhaul of its employment system in the mid-1990s.Methodology/approach – The empirical evidence is drawn from 2003 Chinese General Social Survey data. I conduct statistical analyses to examine the roles of networks in job search and earning disparity by comparing two groups who obtained the job before and after the emerging labor market in urban China, respectively.Findings –Social networks have become much more popular in job search in the emerging labor market. Use of social networks in job search has also become more differentiated across job positions and employment organizations. While managerial status of the key helper and direct ties yield greater returns to employee earnings, strong indirect ties make less contribution to job earnings in the emerging labor market than that under the state-dominated employment system.Research implications – The findings suggest that we should analyze the concrete institutional environment to appreciate the roles of social networks in job search and social inequality.Originality/value – This study highlights that institutions are the key factor to shape the patterns and significance of social networks. As institutions evolve, network patterns and their significance can change accordingly.
Purpose – This study assesses the extent to which four features of work – supervision, autonomy, creativity, and skill – are associated with different structural forms of…
Purpose – This study assesses the extent to which four features of work – supervision, autonomy, creativity, and skill – are associated with different structural forms of social capital. Social capital may enhance actors’ access to diverse information and resources or it may foster mutual commitment and trust. Actors’ draw on these social connections, and the resources embedded therein, when they engage in work activities. The study considers how dense and diverse network structures serve complementary functions to actors engaged in creative and autonomous jobs or for reproducing inequality within firms.Methodology – The analysis uses nationally representative survey data and the position-generator approach to social capital measurement to determine the relationship between three social capital constructs – diversity, hierarchy, and density – and respondents’ work characteristics.Findings – Supervisory, autonomous, creative, and highly skilled workers all have more diverse social networks. Supervisors and skilled workers also have access to high-status contacts. Finally, creative and autonomous workers have more dense social networks.Originality/value – Findings suggest that density and diversity are useful to actors engaged in self-directed or creative work tasks. These findings support theories of complementary network structures that combine access to unique information with the collective ability to pursue goals.
Purpose – I suggest that we conceptualize labor markets as observable social networks, in which workplaces are the nodes and people moving between workplaces are the…
Purpose – I suggest that we conceptualize labor markets as observable social networks, in which workplaces are the nodes and people moving between workplaces are the edges. The movement of people delivers the actionable information as to what the supply, demand, and going wage for labor might be. Labor market networks are hypothesized to be quite thin thus leading to substantial wage setting autonomy within workplaces, consistent with contemporary observations in both economics and sociology as to the weakness of labor market signals.Method – This paper reviews theoretical and empirical work in economics, sociology, and network science and develops a network image of labor market structure and function. Hypotheses derived from economic, sociological, and network theories are proposed to explain workplace-level wage setting.Findings – Information flow, trust in information, information variance, collusion, and status beliefs are all proposed as important network properties of labor markets. The paper outlines an observational strategy to make labor markets scientifically observable.Originality – Economists and sociologists often refer to labor markets as mechanisms setting the price of labor but rarely observe them. This paper outlines a strategy for making the invisible hand of the market scientifically observable.