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For better or worse? Non-standard jobs and high involvement work systems

By Alan Felstead and Duncan Gallie


Over the last couple of decades, core-periphery models of employment have dominated the debate on organizational responsiveness to change. More recently, however, researchers have also turned their attention to organizational reforms that seek to involve, engage and empower workers in their jobs. This paper addresses two related questions that emerge from these debates: are non-standard jobs lowly skilled and insecure and, if so, do high involvement work systems make things better or worse? By drawing on the 2001 Skills Survey the paper presents evidence on the most comprehensive and up-to-date information currently available in Britain. The paper finds that, while in most respects part-time workers and those on temporary contracts (especially those with contracts of uncertain duration) are in more lowly skilled jobs, only those on temporary contacts suffer from relatively high levels of insecurity. Despite this, non-standard employees appear to gain more than full-time permanent employees from being part of a high involvement work system - part-timers, in particular, benefit most from the increased level of skills these workplaces demand, and some types of temporary employees take additional benefit from the enhanced employment security with which these workplaces are associated

Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1080/0958519042000238464
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