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Professor Phillip Brown

Professor Phillip Brown

Distinguished Research Professor

School of Social Sciences

Email:
brownp1@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 4157
Fax:
+44 (0)29 2087 4175
  • Distinguished Research Professor.
  • Chair of the Independent Review of Digital Innovation for the Economy and Future of Work in Wales
  • Fellow Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS),
  • Fellow Learned Society of Wales (FLSW).
  • Seventeen books (5 published by Oxford University Press and 6 translated into foreign languages) and over 100 academic articles and reports.
  • Since 2005 he has given keynote presentation in over 17 countries, including World Bank in Washington, International Labour Office in Geneva, European Commission in Brussels.
  • Visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia, Sciences Po in Paris, and the University of Turku.
  • Current Distinguished Visiting Professor, Zhengzhou University, China.
  • Currently Visiting Professor at the Centre for Skills, Performance and Productivity Research, Institute for Adult Learning/Workforce Development Agency,  Singapore
  • Long track-record of doctoral supervision

Current Administration

  • Research Convenor for Work, Employability and the Labour Market (WELM);
  • Head of Marketing and Communications within the School of Social Sciences;
  • Member of the School of Social Sciences Management Board.

Professional memberships

  • Plenary speaker at academic and professional conferences across Europe, Asia and North America;
  • Advisor to governments on skill formation and international best practice for workforce development;
  • Advisor to private and public sector organisations on the future of work, skills and the knowledge economy; the global labour market; employability, recruitment, and the management of talent.

2018

2016

2015

2014

  • Brown, P., Lauder, H. and Ashton, D. 2014. The global auction.. China: Hunan Science and Technology Press.

2013

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1987

There are currently opportunities for exceptional students to join a small team of PhD students and post-doctoral researchers that I am supervising on issues relating to education, employability, work, and the knowledge economy. If anyone is interested in becoming part of a dynamic team of researchers engaged in leading-edge research please contact me at BrownP1@Cardiff.ac.uk.

Current Research Interests

  • Rethinking Human Capital Theory
  • Education, Technology and the Future of Work
  • Sociology of Talent and Global Talent Markets
  • Education, Social Stratification and the Prospects for Social Mobility
  • Positional Competition and Social Congestion Theory
  • The Future of Skill Formation and the Global Division of Labour

The Death of Human Capital? Its Failed Promise and How to Renew It (forthcoming 2019, New York: Oxford University Press).

In our last book, I'm working with Hugh Lauder and Sin Yi Cheung on a major re-analysis of human capital theory which remains one of the most important concepts in economics and in international policy debates. In Theodore W. Schultz’s Presidential Address to the American Economic Association (1960), proclaimed that human capital would revolutionize capitalism and the fate of emerging and developed nations. He told his audience that labour should no longer be treated as a factor of production like land, machines or factories, as investment in education was the key to improving individual life-chances, productivity and economic growth. Gary Becker later declared that we live in the ‘age of human capital’. Globally, trillions of dollars continue to be spent on education and training by governments, companies, families and students, in the belief that it will deliver economic growth, higher productivity and individual prosperity. At the same time it is estimated that student debt in the United States alone has reached a staggering $1.2 trillion.

It may seem surprising to talk about the death of human capital at a time of unprecedented global expansion of education and rapid advances in digital technologies. But we are not arguing that human labour is less important or asserting the end of work in a world in which robots will take over.  The book will describe how we have reached a structural tipping point where education and the labour market no longer work in the way they've done in the past. It describes how the human capital equation of ‘learning equals earning’ doesn’t add up, and offers a revisionist history of human capital theory, explaining why its early popularity was based on a ‘happy accident’ and why Schultz’s human capital revolution has contributed to a ‘revolt of the elites’.   In outlining a new theory we begin by explaining why the term ‘human capital’ should not be abandoned but redefined. Many concepts that are part of the lexicon of public debate, including ‘opportunity’ and ‘education’ are contested. By turning human capital into a contested concept we wish to inject new life into policy and scholarly debate.

To achieve this we re-examine the role of human beings and their relationship to capital. Our definition of human capital seeks to re-capture a wider understanding of education. We also argue that a new human capital is required to address today’s challenges presented by global competition, new technologies and economic inequalities, reigniting longstanding debates about the historical role of education, the future of work, and the role of job markets. In conclusion we argue that the race between education and technology is not one of training more people for high-tech jobs as proposed by Goldin and Katz, but rather a race to reimagine education, work and the labour market in a fundamentally different economic and social world.

List of Contents: 1. Introduction; Part One - The Rise of Human Capital 2. Humans as Capital; 3. The High Tide; Part Two - The Failed Promise of Human Capital 4. Learning Isn’t Earning; 5. Winners and Losers; 6. The Mirage of Opportunity; 7. The Failed Promise of Development; 8. The Great Reversal Part Three - Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century 9. The New Human Capital; 10. Rethinking Labor Supply; 11. Rethinking Job Demand; 12. Rethinking Rate of Return; and 13. Conclusion: A Race against Time.

Digital Disruption, Talent Management and Elite Employability: Corporate and International Policy Perspectives in China, India and Singapore.

This project builds on earlier research on the transformation of the global division of labour and related research on the sociology of talent. It is a comparative study of how Western and Asian transnational companies in China, India and Singapore, define talent and understand the future of talent management. It raises key questions about the future of education and social mobility; skills, employment and social stratification; human resource management; the global auction for high skilled work; employability, labour markets and organizational careers; as well as wider questions about government policy, social inclusion and economic justice. Questions, that have assumed added urgency in a context of technological, political and global disruption, highlighting the need for innovative ideas about talent and talent management for individuals, education, companies and the wider society.

Over sixty interviews have been conducted with senior corporate managers and executives across four sectors - Financial Services; Biomedical; Infocomm, and Professional Services - using semi-structured face-to-face interviews. To gain a better understanding of how corporate talent management is understood and ‘managed’ by employees firms define as ‘high potential’ talent, we also conducted a further 70 face-to-face interviews. Where possible this includes interviews with employees within the same companies in at least two of the three countries. The fieldwork started early 2016 is was completed in April 2017. We are currently analysing the finding and will be publishing our result in the near future. This project is funded by the Centre for Skills, Performance and Productivity, Singapore Institute for Adult Learning/Skills Future Agency.