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Managing Employment Change: The New Realities of Work

Beynon, H; Grimshaw, D; Rubery, J & Ward, K

Deregulation and decentraliation have placed organizations in the driving seat of employment change.  This book draws on the experience of employment restructuring in seven large organizations:  a food retail company, a bank, a telecommunications company, a  media company, a pharmaceutical company, a city council, and an NHS hospital trust.  Rich data collected from all seven organizations provide clear evidence of a general transformation of the wage-effort relationship based on cost cutting and increased work intensity.  This is a consequence - intended and unintended - of the policies and practices organizations have deployed to manage employment change.  The book focuses on three examples:  'lean staffing' and new contractual arrangements; 'delayering' and multi-skilling; and flexible and extended working hours.  The extent of these changes is illustrated through detailed descriptions of ten told through the words of the people themselves.

Why has this extreme restructuring of work and employment occurred?  Is it because the old instituionalized employment system - characterized by bureaucratic organizations and strong trade union s - has now gone, and organizations face increasing market pressures to adapt and survive or periods?  This book rejects the notion of simple market determination.  Instead, it develops an interdisciplinary framework for understanding employment change.  Managers may be seeking solutions to market and performance pressures, but their choice of employment practices is strongly influenced by the institutional, political, and social environment inside and outside the organization.  Despite increased scope for managerial initiative, managers' attempts to develop a strategic approach to employment change during the late 1990s were largely unsuccessful.

The book ends by calling for a process of renewal that rebuilds labour market institutions and reverses the damaging fragmentation of the employment system.  For the well-being of British society there needs to be greater commitment to the principle of promoting decent work.

Managing Employment Change: The New Realities of Work, Oxford University Press, 342, (2002), ISBN 0199248699