Labor Markets and Flexibility

Jill Rubery

in The Oxford Handbook of Work and Organization

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780199299249
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

 Labor Markets and Flexibility

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The labor market has traditionally been viewed through a narrow lens, trained directly on the market for wage labor and on the management of employment within well-bounded organizations. This narrow lens was possible in the era of the industrial model of employment relations. This article explores the nature of change in labor markets and the rise of so-called flexible labor markets. The key elements of the employment system are taken to be: employing organizations and the associated pattern of work organization and pay; the structure of labor supply; and the form of employment relationships and contracts. This article addresses empirical evidence in support of this characterization. Its main objective is to explore the debates about how these changes are to be interpreted, particularly with respect to the now ubiquitous concept of flexibility, and to identify how change in one element is related to or reflective of changes in other dimensions.

Keywords: labor market; industrial model; employment relations; employment system; labor supply

Article.  8773 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business Ethics

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