Book Review: Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology

Technology ChoicesDiane E. Bailey, Paul M. Leonardi : Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. 288 pp.$32.00/£22.95, cloth.

Asaf Darr of University of Haifa recently reviewed Technology Choices: Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology in Administrative Science Quarterly. An excerpt from the book review:

Bailey and Leonardi are leading ethnographers of work who acquired their reputations through meticulous fieldwork, comparative research designs, and insightful use of general themes emerging from the data to develop middle-range theory. All these qualities are demonstrated in this book, which summarizes a decade of research into the engineering profession, with an emphasis on product design work. The book compares the work of automotive design engineers, software engineers, and structural engineers; the technologies they choose to employ in their daily work; Current Issue Coverand the division of labor that structures their work.

The book contributes to organizational literature in at least three meaningful ways. First, it provides an important description of design engineering work, highlighting its heterogeneity. Second, it identifies key factors that shape the choices engineering specialists make regarding their work tools. Third, it lays the grounds for a theory that can explain and even predict why and how occupations make decisions about the technologies they will use in their daily work. This theory is grounded in core elements of occupations, such as distinct skills and local divisions of labor, as well as in the surrounding environment, where variables such as market forces and institutional factors influence technological choice.

You can read the rest of the book review from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Want to stay up to date on all of the latest content published by Administrative Science QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

ILR Review Special Issue: Work and Employment Relations in Health Care

8639003804_2bd2b5f140_zThe August special issue of ILR Review is now available and open to access for the next 30 days! Included in the special issue on Work and Employment Relations in Health Care are papers that discuss the relationship between nurse unions and patient outcomes, the effect of electronic health record adoption on physician productivity, and the impact nurse staffing strategies have on patient satisfaction. In the introductory editorial essay, Ariel C. Avgar, Adrienne E. Eaton, Rebecca Kolins Givan, and Adam Seth Litwin outline the problems inherent in US health care, most notably the fact that despite outspending other countries on health care costs per capita, the US demonstrates above-average rates of medical errors and below-average life expectancies. As the health care system moves toward reform, the authors argue for careful consideration of how workplace dynamics impact the outcomes for everyone involved in health care. The editorial thus highlights the importance of research on work and employment relations in the health care industry:

This special issue of the ILR Review is designed to showcase the central role that work organization and employment relations play in shaping important outcomes such as the quality of care and organizational performance. Each of the articles included in this special issue makes an important contribution to our understanding of the large and rapidly changing health care sector. Specifically, these articles provide novel Current Issue Coverempirical evidence about the relationship between organizations, institutions, and work practices and a wide array of central outcomes across different levels of analysis. This breadth is especially important because the health care literature has largely neglected employment-related factors in explaining organizational and worker outcomes in this industry. Individually, these articles shed new light on the role that health information technologies play in affecting patient care and productivity (see Hitt and Tambe; Meyerhoefer et al.); the relationship between work practices and organizational reliability (Vogus and Iacobucci); staffing practices, processes, and outcomes (Kramer and Son; Hockenberry and Becker; Kossek et al.); health care unions’ effects on the quality of patient care (Arindrajit, Kaplan, and Thompson); and the relationship between the quality of jobs and the quality of care (Burns, Hyde, and Killet). Below, we position the articles in this special issue against the backdrop of the pressures and challenges facing the industry and the organizations operating within it. We highlight the implications that organizational responses to industry pressures have had for organizations, the patients they care for, and the employees who deliver this care.

You can read the special issue of ILR Review free for the next 30 days by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by ILR Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Nurse image attributed to COD Newsroom (CC)

Understanding Vocational Education in Industrialized Countries

[We’re pleased to welcome Nuria Rodriguez-Planas. Nuria published an article in ILR Review in March  2015, entitled 14138116143_b385d032d2_z“A Road Map to Vocational Education and Training in Industrialized Countries” with co-authors Werner Eichhorst, Ricarda Schmidl and Klaus F. Zimmermann.]

Our contribution to the ILR Review was motivated by a background study of IZA contributing to the Worldbank’s World Development Report on Jobs in 2013. We started from the observation that young people have been among those most affected by the 2008/09 financial crisis and its aftermath in many world regions. While the recession led to steep increases in youth unemployment, policies aimed at stimulating labor demand do not fully tackle the root of the problem. Rather, we also need to understand the institutions governing the transition from school to work. Vocational education and training (VET) is often viewed as the silver bullet for the youth joblessness problem. In ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointthis article, we provide a better understanding of VET in industrialized countries, proposing a typology with three types of vocational systems: 1) vocational and technical schools, 2) formal apprenticeships, and 3) dual apprenticeship systems that combine school training with a firm-based approach. We first describe the strengths and challenges of each system. Then we review the evidence of the effectiveness of VET versus general education and the relative effectiveness of the different VET systems. In our view the results indicate that VET is a valued alternative beyond the core of general education and that the use of apprenticeships combined with institutional learning tends to be more effective than school-based VET. Hence, improving the performance of VET can be one element of a medium-run solution to difficult school-to-work transitions.

The abstract for the paper:

Young people have been among those most affected by the recent financial crisis. Vocational education and training (VET) is often viewed as the silver bullet for the youth joblessness problem. In this article, the authors provide a better understanding of VET in industrialized countries, proposing a typology with three types of vocational systems: 1) vocational and technical schools, 2) formal apprenticeships, and 3) dual apprenticeship systems that combine school training with a firm-based approach. They first describe the strengths and challenges of each system. They subsequently review the evidence of the effectiveness of VET versus general education and the relative effectiveness of the different VET systems. Results indicate that VET is a valued alternative beyond the core of general education and that the use of apprenticeships combined with institutional learning tends to be more effective than school-based VET.

You can read “A Road Map to Vocational Education and Training in Industrialized Countries” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to UC Davis College of Engineering (CC)

*Werner Eichhorst is affiliated with IZA. Núria Rodríguez-Planas is affiliated with Queens College of CUNY and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Ricarda Schmidl is affiliated with the University of Mannheim and IZA. Klaus F. Zimmermann is affiliated with IZA and Bonn University. We thank Costanza Biavaschi, Corrado Giulietti, Michael Kendzia, Alexander Muravyev, Victoria Finn, and Janneke Pieters for their input and support. Inquiries can be directed to nrodriguezplanas@gmail.com or Eichhorst@iza.org.

Labor Economics and May Day throughout the Year

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As in recent years, work and economic issues have been on the minds of citizens worldwide – and not just on May Day. Almost on a daily basis we’ve seen or read about the challenges faced by employers, employees, unions, policy makers, and governments worldwide. From debates over raising the minimum wage, to discussions of pay equity and discrimination, workplace health risk factors and health insurance, and more, labor and work concerns are affecting us all. On this week set aside to recognize the international labor movement, we are pleased to highlight key journals in Economics, Industrial Relations & Labor.

We invite you to enjoy access to the following journals through June 30th. Click here to access the trial.

NEW TO SAGE IN 2016: We are pleased to publish The American Economist, the official journal of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honor Society in Economics. The American Economist publishes original research from all fields and schools of economic thought, written by young scholars and those who are teaching the next generation of economists, as well as experienced and prominent economists whose influence has shaped the discipline. We invite you to read a special collection of articles from Nobel Peace Prize winning authors here.

Positive Communication Improves Group Performance

[We’re pleased to welcome Hassan Abu Bakar of  Universiti Utara Malaysia. Dr. Abu Bakar recently published an article with co-author Robert M. McCann of BPCQ/IJBC3.inddUniversity of California, Los Angeles, entitled “An Examination of Leader-Member Dyadic Politeness of Exchange and Servant Leadership on Group Member Performance” online in International Journal of Business Communication.]

Communication literature has indicated that perceptions influence interpersonal communication, which in turn, reinforces perceptions of relationships between dyads, thereby reinforcing their attitudes towards the group. Inspired by these developments, we found the impact of servant leadership on group member performance varied as a function of leader-member dyadic politeness of exchange. One implication of our results that creating a positive communication atmosphere in a work group is vital; it is valuable for both group managers and members to develop communications that are congruent with their social norms. This serves to reduce the possibility of social loafing and role ambiguity problems in a work group. One promising direction for future research is to examine live exchanges between supervisors and subordinates that are recorded and analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively, a methodological approach going beyond conventional survey-based research.

The abstract:

Integrating conversational constraint theory and models of homophily and relational dyadic communication, this study investigates how leader-member politeness exchange and servant leadership influence group member performance in a Malaysian organizational context. Using hierarchical linear modeling with data obtained from a sample of 510 employees, 65 workgroups, and 3 organizations, a politeness of exchange-servant leadership model was tested. Results show that servant leadership was positively and significantly associated with workgroup manager’s ratings of group member’s performance. The positive association between servant leadership and group member performance is more pronounced when managers and members in workgroups are high in politeness of exchange in their interactions. As predicted, leader-member dyadic politeness of exchange within the workgroup manager-group member dyads moderated this positive association.

You can read “An Examination of Leader-Member Dyadic Politeness of Exchange and Servant Leadership on Group Member Performance” from International Journal of Business Communication by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from International Journal of Business Communication? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


Hassan Abu BakarHassan Abu Bakar is an associate professor in the Department of Communication, School of Multimedia Technology and Communication, and Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia. His main research interests are in dyadic communication in workplace, leadership style, organizational communication and intercultural communication.

Robert M. McCann (PhD, Communication, University of California, Santa BarbarRobert M. McCanna) is the Associate Dean for Global Initiatives at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he is also on the School’s Management & Organization faculty. Dr. McCann’s core areas of research interest include intergroup communication, intercultural communication, and workplace ageism.

 

Unlimited Free Access to Unscripted Voices of 21st Century Workers “On the Front Line”

gears-94220_640[We’re pleased to welcome Paul Brook, one of the editors of Work, employment, society. All 10 articles in the On the Front Line (OTFL) collection are being made permanently free as part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology.]

These powerful testimonies of employees’ accounts of their working lives form a series of vivid, ‘behind the scenes’, portraits of the contemporary world of work. Each story is told frankly and all brim with a rich mixture of hope, despair, enjoyment and anger, revealing the hidden, often harsh, realities of work in the 21st century.

These popular and compelling stories are being increasingly used for university teaching but can now be taken-up by schools, colleges and others keen to get ‘under the skin’ of today’s world of work and employment. In doing so, we hope to introduce individuals and groups outside of the academy, especially young people, to the richness of what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination”.

F1.mediumThe OTFL collection includes accounts of the indignities of working as a cleaner in a luxury hotel; an activist’s story during a protracted factory strike; the dangerous health consequences for a slimming club consultant striving to ‘look the part’; the unremitting time demands on a supermarket manager; the endemic abuse and violence suffered by a trainee haute cuisine chef in Michelin starred kitchens; and the personal struggles of a pioneer woman priest.

OTFL also offers first-hand accounts of major political-industrial events, such as working inside HBOS bank during the 2008 financial crisis; a pit supervisor’s experience of Britain’s miners’ strike of 1984-85; organising inside the factory occupation movement as part of the Argentinian anti-IMF uprising of 2001-02; and the disturbing account of work under hazardous conditions in a Scottish plastics factory shortly before a devastating explosion that killed nine workers in 2004.

Unlike standard research articles, OTFL contributions are co-authored by the worker and an academic/s. Each one is preceded by a brief scene-setting commentary written by the academic. If you would like to write an OTFL article, the Work, employment and society website has guidance. You can also contact us to discuss your ideas further.

Making OTFL free access is part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology. We want to encourage more scholars to work with workers and employees, especially the less powerful, to help give voice to their hidden experiences and unheard views. We also want to make our small contribution to ensuring that workers’ experiences, views and ideas will not be consigned to the “enormous condescension of posterity”, as E.P. Thompson famously claimed was the fate of earlier generations of workers.

May Day: Research has much to say about challenges in the workplace.

Work-word-dictionary

Work issues have often taken center stage this year. From debates over raising the minimum wage, to discussions of pay equity and discrimination, workplace health risk factors and health insurance, and more, labor and work concerns are on the minds of employers, employees, unions, policy makers, and governments worldwide. On this day set aside to recognize the international labor movement, we are pleased to highlight key journals in Economics, Industrial Relations & Labor.

We invite you to enjoy access to the following journals through June 30th. Click here to access the trial.

COMING IN 2016: We are pleased to begin publishing The American Economist, the official journal of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honor Society in Economics. The American Economist publishes original research from all fields and schools of economic thought, written by young scholars and those who are teaching the next generation of economists, as well as experienced and prominent economists whose influence has shaped the discipline.