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Article

Uzoechi Nwagbara

This study explores the nexus between institutions and managerialist employment relations and subsequent work-life balance (WLB) challenges for Nigerian employees. Through…

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores the nexus between institutions and managerialist employment relations and subsequent work-life balance (WLB) challenges for Nigerian employees. Through an exploratory approach, the paper investigates how institutions shape employment relations, which is characterised by systematic and normalised managerialist practices and lack of employee participation.

Design/methodology/approach

Relying on a qualitative, interpretive approach, this study explores the relationship between institutional pressures, managerialism and employment relations. 31 semi-structured interviews and nine focus group interviews data was used.

Findings

This paper found that institutions shape organisational practice, specifically employment relations and human resource management (HRM) practice generally through its normative tendency. The study also found that although managerialist employment relations leads to WLB challenges, Nigeria's unique context aggravates this situation constituting serious WLB challenges for workers.

Research limitations/implications

Researches dealing with the relationship between managerialism, employment relations and WLB are largely underdeveloped and under-theorised. HRM phenomena such as unhappy workforce, stress, lack of flexibility, burnout, turnover and turnover intention, associated with management practice, have major implications for engagement procedures and HRM strategies. However, the sample size used potentially limits generalisation including its qualitative approach.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the dearth of researches focusing on employer–employee relationship quality as a precursor to WLB challenges and a mediator between managerialist employment relations and WLB challenges. Additionally, the study contributes to the burgeoning WLB discourse from developing countries perspective, which is understudied. It also sheds light on how Nigeria's unique context can bring new insights into the nascent WLB discourse and its associated HRM practices.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 42 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Book part

Alice Rangel de Paiva Abreu is Director of the Office of Science and Technology of the Organization of American States in Washington DC, and Professor of Sociology at the…

Abstract

Alice Rangel de Paiva Abreu is Director of the Office of Science and Technology of the Organization of American States in Washington DC, and Professor of Sociology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For three years she was Vice President of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). She is also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Sociological Association and President of RC30 Sociology of Work. Her research interests include industrial restructuring and gender and work. alice.abreu@br.inter.net Graciela Bensusán is a professor/researcher at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, and is also affiliated with FLACSO in Mexico City. She is the author of numerous books and articles on comparative labor policy, organizations, and institutions, including Trabajo y Trabajadores en el México Contemporáneo (co-editor, 2000), which received the Latin American Studies Association Labor Studies Section award for best book. bensusan@servidor.unam.mx Leni Beukema is Assistant Professor of Labor Studies in the Department of General Social Sciences at the University of Utrecht. Her research activities and publications have – beside matters concerning labor movements – focussed on quality and organization of work, network-organizations and time management, and globalization/localization at work. l.beukema@fss.uu.nl Bob Carter is Senior Lecturer in the Sociology Department, the University of Leicester, UK. His original interests were focused on the class position of white-collar workers and the nature of their organizations. He has taught trade unionists, has written on labor process theory and the distinctiveness of public sector employment, and is currently developing research on comparative US/UK union strategies. bc20@leicester.ac.uk Harry Coenen is a Professor of Social Sciences (labor studies) in the Department of General Social Sciences at the University of Utrecht. His research activities and publications include among others the theories of structuration and the risk-society, citizenship and social participation, union movements and labor relations and the research methodology of action research. h.coenen@fss.uu.nl Maria Lorena Cook is associate professor in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University. A political scientist, she has published widely on Mexican labor politics, labor reform, regional integration, and transnational movements. Professor Cook is writing a book on labor law reform and union responses in Latin America. MLC13@cornell.edu Rae Cooper teaches industrial relations in Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. Rae’s research addresses organising and membership renewal strategies of Australian unions. In 2002, she edited a special edition of Labour History on union organising and mobilisation in Australia and New Zealand. Rae is an active union member and the Chair of the New South Wales Working Women’s Centre. r.cooper@econ.usyd.edu.au Daniel B. Cornfield is Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University and Editor of Work and Occupations. His research has addressed the growth, decline and revitalization of labor movements, the wellbeing of immigrants, changing workplace social organization, the employment relationship, and work & family. Among his recent publications is his volume co-edited with Randy Hodson, Worlds of Work: Building an International Sociology of Work (Kluwer/Plenum, 2002). daniel.b.cornfield@vanderbilt.edu Rick Delbridge is Professor in Organizational Analysis at Cardiff Business School. His research interests include the changing nature of work and organizational innovation. He is author of Life on the Line in Contemporary Manufacturing (Oxford University Press) and co-editor of Manufacturing in Transition (Routledge). Peter Fairbrother is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, Wales. He researches in the area of trade union and labour studies. This work includes work on changes in public services, international trade unionism and labour rights and the impact of globalisation and de-industrialisation on labour. He has published broadly in these areas and has made a major contribution to debates about trade union renewal. FairbrotherPD@cardiff.ac.uk Enrique de la Garza Toledo is former Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor in the Graduate Program in Labor Studies at the Metropolitan University of Mexico, and Editor of the journal Trabajo. A prolific writer on labor and work in Latin America, he was recently awarded the National Prize for Labor Research for his work on productive restructuring, firms, and workers in México in the beginning of the 21st century. egt@xanum.uam.mx Edmund Heery is Professor of Human Resource Management at Cardiff Business School. His main research interests are trends in union organising and union representation of workers with non-standard contracts. Professor Heery is an editor of the British Journal of Industrial Relations and an academic advisor to the New Unionism Task Group of the Trades Union Congress. Russell D. Lansbury is Professor of Work and Organisational Studies and Associate Dean (Research) at the University of Sydney. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, his recent publications include After Lean Production: Evolving Employment Practices in the World Auto Industry, with T. A. Kochan and J. P. McDuffie (Cornell University Press, 1997) and Working Futures: The Changing Nature of Work and Employment Relations in Australia, with R. Callus (Federation Press 2002). He is joint editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations. r.lansbury@econ.usyd.edu.au Héctor Lucena is Professor of Labor Relations and Coordinator of the Doctoral Program in Social Science at the Universidad de Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela. He has written widely on processes, institutions, and transformations in labor relations in Venezuela and Latin America. hlucena@postgrado.uc.edu.ve Holly McCammon is Associate Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Recently she has studied the changing strategies of the U.S. labor movement, particularly its shift from strike activity to legal mobilization. Her interest in collective strategies has also led her to study the U.S. women’s suffrage movement and its use of various tactics and arguments. José Ricardo Ramalho is professor of sociology in the Graduate Program of Sociology and Anthropology of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His main research interests have been related to the sociology of work, trade union and working class movements, and development studies. jramalho@ifcs.ufrj.br John Salmon lectures in industrial relations and Japanese management at Cardiff Business School. He is Joint Coordinator of the Asian Pacific Research Unit at Cardiff. His research interests have been largely associated with workplace relations. Currently, he is involved with empirical research of union organising campaigns in both Britain and Japan. Rachel Sherman is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University. Her dissertation, “Class Acts: Producing and Consuming Luxury Service in Hotels,” is an ethnographic investigation of inequality in interactive service work. Melanie Simms is a lecturer in industrial relations and human resource management at Canterbury Business School, which is part of the University of Kent. Her research interests focus on trade union renewal, specifically attempts to organize groups of workers who are under-represented in the trade union movement. M.Simms@ukc.ac.uk David H. Simpson is a Lecturer in Industrial Relations and Director of the Trade Union Research Unit at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University. His main interests centre on trade unions, particularly in South Wales, and has conducted research projects for the GMB, GPMU, UNISON, UNIFI and NAHT amongst others. He is currently a member of the ACAS Single Panel of Arbitrators. Doowon Suh is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of International Studies of Korea University in Korea. His research areas of interest cover social movements, historical sociology, sociology of work, and modern Korean society. His current research project addresses the issue of how social movements influence democratic transition and consolidation in the Third World. dwsuh@korea.ac.kr Lowell Turner is professor of international and comparative labor at Cornell University, in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Among his books are Democracy at Work: Changing World Markets and the Future of Labor Unions (1991) and Fighting for Partnership: Labor and Politics in Unified Germany (1998), along with several edited volumes including Rekindling the Movement: Labor’s Quest for Relevance in the 21st Century (2001). Kim Voss is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Making of American Exceptionalism: The Knights of Labor and Class Formation in the Nineteenth Century and is co-author of Inequality By Design, Des Syndicats Domestiques, and the forthcoming Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement. Her current research is focused on social movement unionism in the U.S. and elsewhere, on the life history of labor activists, and on the impact of participatory democracy on civil society. Mark Westcott is a lecturer in the School of Business at the University of Sydney. His research interests include union structure and activity within workplaces as well as the effects of corporate structure and strategy upon the management of labor.

Details

Labor Revitalization: Global Perspectives and New Initiatives
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-153-8

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Article

Alexandros G. Psychogios, Leslie T. Szamosi and Geoffrey Wood

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the employment relations context in South Eastern Europe from a variety of capitalism perspectives. Particular attention is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the employment relations context in South Eastern Europe from a variety of capitalism perspectives. Particular attention is accorded to the uneven nature of change at both the levels of institutions and practice. This is followed by a review of the individual papers that make up this special issue.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is primarily a theoretical one, providing a review of the papers that make up this special issue and giving an overview of the foundation being provided.

Findings

While the term “transitional” has often been deployed to describe employment relations across the region, the process has been an extremely protracted one. There is little doubt that the nature and form of employment relations in the countries encompassed in this review is still coalescing, with further ruptures likely as a result of the 2009 depression. At the same time, the papers in this special issue point to long‐standing continuities with employment.

Research limitations/implications

While the papers that make up this special issue may present the most recent research in the region, they also point to future areas for research. First, there is particularly little research that has been undertaken on peripheral areas of a generally peripheral region. Not only do we know very little about, say, Albanian employment relations, but we know little about employment relations in peripheral areas of large countries such as Turkey. Second, the 2009 depression is likely to accelerate trends to downsizing and insecure work, in the short term at least. Finally, there is a growing consensus that a sustainable economic recovery from the current crisis will depend, at least in part, on new social compromises both globally and regionally.

Practical implications

Employment relations in the region are undergoing an extended transition. In the short term, the most likely trend will be towards a further weakening of the bargaining position of employees, and towards more insecure working. However, a sustained recovery is likely to see a reversal of this, with employers being more likely to be forced to contemplate new social compromises.

Originality/value

This study applies the comparative capitalism literature to the South Eastern European region context. It also introduces some of the most recent applied research in the region.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article

Anita Hammer and Suparna Karmakar

This research contributes to current debates on automation and the future of work, a much-hyped but under researched area, in emerging economies through a particular focus…

Abstract

Purpose

This research contributes to current debates on automation and the future of work, a much-hyped but under researched area, in emerging economies through a particular focus on India. It assesses the national strategy on artificial intelligence and explores the impact of automation on the Indian labour market, work and employment to inform policy.

Design/methodology/approach

The article critically assesses the National Strategy on AI, promulgated by NITI Aayog (a national policy think tank), supported by the government of India and top industry associations, through a sectoral analysis. The key dimensions of the national strategy are examined against scholarship on the political economy of work in India to better understand the possible impact of automation on work.

Findings

The study shows that technology is not free from the wider dynamics that surround the world of work. The adoption of new technologies is likely to occur in niches in the manufacturing and services sectors, while its impact on employment and the labour market more broadly, and in addressing societal inequalities will be limited. The national strategy, however, does not take into account the nature of capital accumulation and structural inequalities that stem from a large informal economy and surplus labour context with limited upskilling opportunities. This raises doubts about the effectiveness of the current policy.

Research limitations/implications

The critical assessment of new technologies and work has two implications: first, it underscores the need for situated analyses of social and material relations of work in formulating and assessing strategies and policies; second, it highlights the necessity of qualitative workplace studies that examine the relationship between technology and the future of work.

Practical implications

The article assesses an influential state policy in a key aspect of future of work–automation.

Social implications

The policy assessed in this study would have significant social and economic outcomes for labour, work and employment in India. The study highlights the limitations of the state policy in addressing key labour market dimensions and work and employment relations in its formulation and implementation.

Originality/value

This study is the first to examine the impact of automation on work and employment in India. It provides a critical intervention in current debates on future of work from the point of view of an important emerging economy defined by labour surplus and a large informal economy.

Details

Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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Article

Cameron Allan, Greg J. Bamber and Nils Timo

McJobs in the fast‐food sector are a major area of youth employment. This paper explores young people's perceptions of work in this industry.

Abstract

Purpose

McJobs in the fast‐food sector are a major area of youth employment. This paper explores young people's perceptions of work in this industry.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper discusses the results of a survey of students' experiences of McJobs in Australia.

Findings

Fast‐food workers were generally dissatisfied with the industrial relations and work organisation aspects of their jobs. Nonetheless, they were generally much more satisfied with the human resource management and social relations aspects of their jobs.

Research limitations/implications

Our research has implications for understanding the human capital development practices adopted by employers in the fast‐food industry and in other sectors, especially those that employ young people. Much of the context for work and employment relations in Australia is comparable with those in most English‐speaking countries. Therefore, our findings have implications for work in similar sectors in other countries, in particular, other English‐speaking countries.

Practical implications

This paper has implications for people who devise recruitment policies and design of jobs. It is a useful reminder that it is no longer appropriate for people to talk in simple terms of satisfaction at work per se; it is vital to differentiate between various aspects and contexts of job satisfaction, or the of the lack of it.

Originality/value

Earlier studies of fast‐food work have tended to be polemical and polarized: either apologias or very critical. This paper adopts a more balanced approach and it puts the findings into context.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article

Peter Fairbrother

The question of health and safety at work is a central issue for trade unions. In Britain it is an area of concern where there were important legislative initiatives in…

Abstract

The question of health and safety at work is a central issue for trade unions. In Britain it is an area of concern where there were important legislative initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s, although surprisingly this has received relatively little attention in the debates about trade unionism. This neglect results in an aspect of union activity about which little is known. Explores through a detailed longitudinal study of a middle‐range engineering firm, from the late 1970s into the 1990s, the ways in which trade unions organize and act on health and safety questions. Argues that it is almost “routine” that workers face dangers and hazards at work, a central feature of the work and employment experience of most workers. However, this is often difficult to deal with as individual issues, or as matters which are subject to collective consideration. On the one hand, workers often appear to accept the dangers and hazards they face. On the other hand, managements are preoccupied with questions relating to production and finance, rather than the day‐to‐day problems faced by workers. This tension suggests that the future wellbeing of workers in unionized workplaces lies not so much with legislative provisions and rights at work, but in education and the organizing ability of workplace unions, raising and addressing what often seem like individualistic problems in collective ways.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Book part

Arnaldo Camuffo and Federica De Stefano

In this paper, we argue that work should be recognized as “commons.” We call for a new approach to how managers define their role and responsibility regarding the problem…

Abstract

In this paper, we argue that work should be recognized as “commons.” We call for a new approach to how managers define their role and responsibility regarding the problem of work flexibility and of its societal implications. We argue that, in the global and digitized economy, it is in the best interest of all the company’s stakeholders that managers choose combinations of work arrangements and human resource policies considering the externalities of these decisions. Managers’ responsibility spans to the costs and risks that the broader social system of organizational stakeholders will bear because of their decisions. When labor market institutions are “thin,” it is management’s responsibility to contribute structuring and shaping them, so that the interests of workers, independent of the work arrangements, are considered.

Details

The Structuring of Work in Organizations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-436-5

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Article

Bruce E. Kaufman

This paper surveys the contribution of economics and industrial relations (E/IR) to the development of the field of personnel/human resource management (P/HRM). A brief…

Abstract

This paper surveys the contribution of economics and industrial relations (E/IR) to the development of the field of personnel/human resource management (P/HRM). A brief review of existing accounts of the evolution of the field reveals that they give little mention to the role of E/IR. A re‐examination of the early years of P/HRM suggests, however, that this is a serious omission. It is demonstrated, for example, that E/IR was in fact the principal disciplinary base for research and teaching in P/HRM in US universities into the 1940s and that for the first two decades of the field’s existence the most influential and authoritative academic‐based writers came from the ranks of economists and economics‐trained IR scholars. After describing the reasons for this close relationship, The centrifugal forces that caused a gradual split between E/IR and P/HRM are described. This split had roots in the 1920s, became increasingly visible in the 1950s and beyond, and by the late 1980s had reached a point where the two subject areas had little intellectual or organizational interaction. The paper ends with a brief review of recent developments that herald a modest rapprochement between E/IR and P/HRM.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 40 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Content available
Book part

Peter Boxall, Meng-Long Huo, Keith Macky and Jonathan Winterton

High-involvement work processes (HIWPs) are associated with high levels of employee influence over the work process, such as high levels of control over how to handle…

Abstract

High-involvement work processes (HIWPs) are associated with high levels of employee influence over the work process, such as high levels of control over how to handle individual job tasks or a high level of involvement at team or workplace level in designing work procedures. When implementations of HIWPs are accompanied by companion investments in human capital – for example, in better information and training, higher pay and stronger employee voice – it is appropriate to talk not only of HIWPs but of “high-involvement work systems” (HIWSs). This chapter reviews the theory and practice of HIWPs and HIWSs. Across a range of academic perspectives and societies, it has regularly been argued that steps to enhance employee involvement in decision-making create better opportunities to perform, better utilization of skill and human potential, and better employee motivation, leading, in turn, to various improvements in organizational and employee outcomes.

However, there are also costs to increased employee involvement and the authors review the important economic and sociopolitical contingencies that help to explain the incidence or distribution of HIWPs and HIWSs. The authors also review the research on the outcomes of higher employee involvement for firms and workers, discuss the quality of the research methods used, and consider the tensions with which the model is associated. This chapter concludes with an outline of the research agenda, envisaging an ongoing role for both quantitative and qualitative studies. Without ignoring the difficulties involved, the authors argue, from the societal perspective, that the high-involvement pathway should be considered one of the most important vectors available to improve the quality of work and employee well-being.

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Article

Geoffrey Wood

This introduction aims to review the present state of research on employment relations in Africa, and provide an overview of subsequent papers.

Abstract

Purpose

This introduction aims to review the present state of research on employment relations in Africa, and provide an overview of subsequent papers.

Design/methodology/approach

The article provides a brief review on the journal issue.

Findings

Despite considerable diversity across the continent, a number of common issues and themes emerge. These would include the sharp divide between formal and informal work, the problems faced by unions in organizing in contexts where formal employment is shrinking, and the often negative effects of liberalization. What all the articles in this special issue point to is that the prospects of enhancing the quality of working life, and imparting greater fairness to the implementation of the employment contract is contingent on both national institution building – allowing for the nurturing of complementarities conducive to the expansion, entrenchment and development of higher value added production paradigms – and fairer terms, more equitable relations with the developed world.

Practical implications

Understanding of the practice of employment relations in Africa can be greatly advanced through collaborative initiatives aimed at developing the capacity of emerging scholars and ensuring that the work of more mature scholars of employment based at African universities receives the exposure it deserves.

Originality/value

The article introduces the papers in the issue.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

Keywords

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