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flexible firm model


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A management technique for organizing the workplace using various forms of flexibility in order to optimize the use of human resources. Originally proposed by Jon Atkinson of the Institute of Manpower Studies, in 1986, it is based on the principle of segmenting the workforce into core and peripheral groups. The core group is composed of employees that are vital to the organization, functionally flexible, and difficult to replace (perhaps because of their skills, knowledge, or experience). The peripheral group is composed of employees who are numerically flexible because (1) their skills are in plentiful supply in the labour market, and so they can be easily replaced, or (2) they are only needed to complete particular tasks (irrespective of the scarcity or otherwise of their skills), or (3) they are only needed at peak times across the working day or week. From the employee perspective, it is better to be part of the core than the periphery since the former has greater job security, better remuneration and conditions of work, and better prospects. In addition to the core and periphery employees, the flexible firm model also identifies the importance of external workers—in particular, subcontracted workers who typically undertake activities such as cleaning and catering, which are not core to the business, although important to its running (see distancing).

(1) their skills are in plentiful supply in the labour market, and so they can be easily replaced, or (2) they are only needed to complete particular tasks (irrespective of the scarcity or otherwise of their skills), or (3) they are only needed at peak times across the working day or week.

Subjects: Human Resource Management.


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