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Inside The Black Box of Temporary Help Agencies

  • Kvasnicka, Michael

Based on a new panel dataset created in close cooperation with one of the largest temporary help agencies (THAs) in Germany, this paper presents novel evidence on key aspects of temporary agency work, a segment of the labor market that despite its growing importance remains underresearched. In particular, we provide detailed information on the internal operation of a THA and the allocative function it performs both as an intermediate demander and as a final supplier of labor in this submarket. In addition to offering first examination of effective wage and fee schedules, we document, among others, the rise of on-call hiring, recalls and fixed-term contracts in the recruitment of workers, the reasons for job termination, as well as the volume of labor actually contracted per worker and per worker-client match. We show that the THA manages to utilize effectively its workforce in assignments and keeps idle labor at a minimum. In fact, more than a third of workers exhibit multiple client engagements. One-off recruitment and dismissal costs per worker can thus effectively be spread across different clients.

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Paper provided by Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes in its series SFB 373 Discussion Papers with number 2003,43.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:200343
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  1. Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538.
  2. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
  3. Neugart, Michael & Storrie, Donald, 2002. "Temporary work agencies and equilibrium unemployment," Working Papers in Economics 83, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  4. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1998. "Wage differentials for temporary services work: evidence from administrative data," Working Paper Series WP-98-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Kvasnicka, Michael & Werwatz, Axel, 2002. "On the wages of temporary help service workers in Germany," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2002,70, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
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