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Flexible Staffing Arrangements and Employers' Short-Term Adjustment Strategies

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  • Katharine G. Abraham

Abstract

This paper reports new evidence from a survey of over 408 U.S. employers concerning their use of temporary and on-call workers. More than 90 percent of responding organizations reported reliance on these flexible staffing arrangements. They accounted for an average of 1.5 percent of total labor input at user organizations during 1985; at some organizations, they accounted for 10 percent or even 20 percent of total labor input. Four-fifths of survey respondents indicated that flexible staffing arrangements play an important role in absorbing workload fluctuations. Moreover, organizations with highly seasonal or highly cyclical demand made significantly greater use of flexible staffing arrangements during 1985 than organizations with less seasonal or less cyclical demand. The use of flexible staffing arrangements appears to be a more important component of employers' short-term adjustment strategies than has previously been recognized.

Suggested Citation

  • Katharine G. Abraham, 1988. "Flexible Staffing Arrangements and Employers' Short-Term Adjustment Strategies," NBER Working Papers 2617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2617
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    1. Topel, Robert H, 1982. "Inventories, Layoffs, and the Short-Run Demand for Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 769-787, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. DiPrete, Thomas A. & Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric & Quesnel-Vallée, Amélie, 2003. "Work and pay in flexible and regulated labor markets: A generalized perspective on institutional evolution and inequality trends in Europe and the US," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2003-109, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    2. Susan N. Houseman, 2001. "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 149-170, October.
    3. J. Ignacio García Pérez & Fernando Muñoz Bullón, 2001. "Temporary help agencies and workers' occupational mobility," Economics Working Papers 554, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    4. Patricia Bielman & Denis Chênevert & Gilles Simard & Michel Tremblay, 1999. "Déterminants du recours au travail atypique : Une étude des travailleurs à statut précaire dans les organisations québécoises," CIRANO Working Papers 99s-36, CIRANO.
    5. J. Ignacio García-Pérez & Fernando Muñoz-Bullón, 2005. "Temporary Help Agencies and Occupational Mobility," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(2), pages 163-180, April.
    6. David H. Autor, 2009. "Introduction to "Studies of Labor Market Intermediation"," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 1-23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Climent Serrano, S., 2004. "Utilización y conocimiento de la herramientas de medición y su relación con los costes de calidad en las empresas certificadas en la norma ISO 9000 de la Comunidad Valenciana/Use and Knowledge of the ," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 22, pages 369-389, Agosto.
    8. Boockmann, Bernhard & Hagen, Tobias, 2001. "The use of flexible working contracts in West Germany: evidence from an establishment panel," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-33, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. James B. Rebitzer & Lowell J. Taylor, 1991. "Work Incentives and the Demand for Primary and Contingent Labor," NBER Working Papers 3647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. David Autor & Susan Houseman, 2005. "Temporary Agency Employment as a Way out of Poverty?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 05-123, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    11. Autor, David, 2008. "The Economics of Labor Market Intermediation: An Analytic Framework," IZA Discussion Papers 3705, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Boockmann, Bernhard & Steffes, Susanne, 2005. "Individual and Plant-level Determinants of Job Durations in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-89, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman, 2010. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from "Work First"," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 96-128, July.
    14. Matthew Dey & Susan Houseman & Anne Polivka, 2010. "What Do We Know About Contracting Out in the United States? Evidence from Household and Establishment Surveys," NBER Chapters,in: Labor in the New Economy, pages 267-304 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Susan N. Houseman, "undated". "Job Growth and the Quality of Jobs in the U.S. Economy," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh19951, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    16. Traci L. Mach & John A. Holmes, 2008. "The use of alternative employment arrangements by small businesses: evidence from the 2003 Survey of Small Business Finances," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman & Sari Pekkala Kerr, 2017. "The Effect of Work First Job Placements on the Distribution of Earnings: An Instrumental Variable Quantile Regression Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 149-190.
    18. Büchtemann, Christoph F., 1990. "Kündigungsschutz als Beschäftigungshemmnis? : empirische Evidenz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 23(3), pages 394-409.
    19. Heywood, John S. & Siebert, W. Stanley & Wei, Xiangdong, 2006. "Examining the Determinants of Agency Work: Do Family Friendly Practices Play a Role?," IZA Discussion Papers 2413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    20. repec:iab:iabmit:v:23:i:3:p:394-409 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Pinoli, Sara, 2008. "Screening ex-ante or screening on-the-job? The impact of the employment contract," MPRA Paper 11429, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Hagen, Tobias, 2001. "Does fixed-term contract employment raise firms' adjustment-speed? Evidence from an establishment panel for West-Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-57, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    23. Muñoz-Bullón, Fernando, 2008. "Who downsizes for longer? A longitudinal analysis," DEE - Working Papers. Business Economics. WB wb082805, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía de la Empresa.
    24. Hagen Tobias, 2003. "Does Fixed-term Contract Employment Raise Firms’ Adjustment Speed?. Evidence from an Establishment Panel for West Germany / Erhöhen befristete Verträge die Anpassungsgeschwindigkeit von Unternehmen?. ," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 223(4), pages 403-421, August.

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