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Why has Work Effort become more intense? Conjectures and Evidence about Effort-Biased Technical Change and other stories

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  • Francis Green

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Abstract

I investigate possible explanations for work intensification, using four British data sets. I conjecture that an important source of work intensification is effort-biased technical change (EBTC), which enhances the productivity of high effort workers relative to that of low effort workers. EBTC can be traced to innovations such as Total Quality Management and to information technology, and is linked with multi-skilling. I argue that EBTC is complementary with skill-biased technological change. Additional sources of intensification are the increasing use of intra-firm communication policies, and the declining power of unions. All the above receive empirical support. However, evidence also shows that neither increased teamworking nor, contrary to popular expectations, changing job insecurity has raised average effort levels.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.ukc.ac.uk/pub/ejr/RePEc/ukc/ukcedp/0003.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Kent in its series Studies in Economics with number 0003.

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Date of creation: May 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:0003

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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Kent at Canterbury, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NP
Phone: +44 (0)1227 764000
Fax: +44 (0)1227 827850
Web page: http://www.ukc.ac.uk/economics/

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Keywords: Labour supply; work effort; work intensity;

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  1. Paul Gregg, 1996. "It Takes Two: Employment Polarisation in the OECD," CEP Discussion Papers dp0304, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-28, June.
  3. Green, Francis & Weisskopf, Thomas E, 1990. "The Worker Discipline Effect: A Disaggregative Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 241-49, May.
  4. Francis Green & Steven McIntosh, 1998. "Union power, cost of job loss, and workers' effort," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(3), pages 363-383, April.
  5. Francis Green, 1999. "It's been a hard day's night: The concentration and intensification of work in late 20th century Britain," Studies in Economics 9913, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  6. Bresnahan, Timothy F, 1999. "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: An Analytical Reinterpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F390-415, June.
  7. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings losses of displaced workers," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 92-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Barzel, Yoram, 1973. "The Determination of Daily Hours and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 220-38, May.
  9. Rebitzer, James B & Taylor, Lowell J, 1995. "Do Labor Markets Provide Enough Short-Hour Jobs? An Analysis of Work Hours and Work Incentives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(2), pages 257-73, April.
  10. Stephen Nickell & Tracy Jones & Glenda Quintini, 2000. "A picture of job insecurity facing British men," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20141, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Green, Francis, 2000. "The Impact of Company Human Resource Policies on Social Skills: Implications for Training Sponsorship, Quit Rates and Efficiency Wages," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(3), pages 251-72, August.
  12. Green, Francis & Felstead, Alan & Burchell, Brendan, 2000. " Job Insecurity and the Difficulty of Regaining Employment: An Empirical Study of Unemployment Expectations," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 62(0), pages 855-83, Special I.
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  14. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Green, Francis & McIntosh, Steven, 2001. "The intensification of work in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 291-308, May.
  16. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
  17. Kochan, Thomas A., 1996. "What works at work : overview and assessment," Working papers 3886-96., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  18. John MacDuffie, 1995. "Human resource bundles and manufacturing performance: Organizational logic and flexible production systems in the world auto industry," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(2), pages 197-221, January.
  19. Stewart, Mark B, 1995. "Union Wage Differentials in an Era of Declining Unionization," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(2), pages 143-66, May.
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  21. repec:ese:iserwp:97-21 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 1999. "Information Technology, Workplace Organization and the Demand for Skilled Labor: Firm-Level Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. A Felstead & D Gallie & F Green, 2000. "Computers are even more important than you thought: An Analysis of the changing skill-intensity of jobs," CEP Discussion Papers dp0439, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  24. Dale Belman & Robert Drago & Mark Wooden, 1992. "Workgroups, Efficiency Wages and Work Effort," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 14(4), pages 497-521, July.
  25. Itoh, Hideshi, 1991. "Incentives to Help in Multi-agent Situations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 611-36, May.
  26. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Green, Francis & McIntosh, Steven, 2001. "The intensification of work in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 291-308, May.

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