Book

A Theory of Employment Systems

David Marsden

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294221
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596612 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198294220.001.0001
A Theory of Employment Systems

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‘A theory of Employment Systems’ explains why there are such great international differences in the way employment relations are organized within the firm. It takes account of the growing evidence of international diversity. It sets out from the theory of the firm first developed by Coase and Simon, and explains why firms and workers should use the employment relationship as the basis for their economic cooperation. The originality of the employment relationship lies in its flexibility. It gives managers the authority to organize work, but it also establishes limits on employees’ obligations. Neither Coase nor Simon dealt with these limits, yet without them, no one would be prepared to work as an ‘employee’, and so there would be no employment relationship, and firms would not exist as employing organizations.

The book argues that these limits are provided by four basic types of employment rule. Which one predominates in a given environment is the source of societal diversity in employment relations. The theory is extended to show why such diversity extends deep into key areas of human resource management, such as performance management, incentive pay, and skill development. It also explains why the open‐ended employment relationship continues to dominate work despite the growth of market‐mediated work relations. The book covers evidence from the US, Japan, France, Germany, and Britain.

Keywords: Ronald Coase; employees; employment relations; employment relationship; employment rules; firms; flexibility; human resource management; managerial authority; Herbert Simon

Book.  314 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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Table of Contents

The Employment Relationship in A Theory of Employment Systems

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The Limits of Managerial Authority in A Theory of Employment Systems

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Diffusion and Predominance of Employment Rules in A Theory of Employment Systems

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Performance Management in A Theory of Employment Systems

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Pay and Incentives in A Theory of Employment Systems

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Skills and Labour Market Structure in A Theory of Employment Systems

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