Work in the New Economy. Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley. Information Age Series

  • ID: 2383056
  • Book
  • 312 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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The rise of the information economy is dramatically transforming work and employment conditions around the globe. Who does the work, how it is done, and the results it produces for individuals and their families, for organizations and for society, is undergoing fundamental change.

This book contributes to our understanding of the transformation of work in the information economy, through a detailed examination of labor markets in Silicon Valley. It provides an original and insightful analysis of flexible labor including growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations. In shaping this context of rapid change, it examines the increasingly important role of labor market intermediaries. These new labor dynamics, shaped by flexibility and intermediation, create difficult and contradictory conditions for workers. Some workers clearly thrive in this vibrant context, but many face high levels of insecurity amidst growing inequality.

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List of Figures vii

List of Tables viii

Series Editor s Preface x

Acknowledgments xiv

Introduction 1

Flexibility 3

Intermediaries 5

Careers 7

Research Data 9


1 Understanding Flexibility 13

Labor Markets in the Information Economy 15

Flexible Work and Flexible Employment 21

2 Silicon Valley: Changing Industry Structure and Employment Practices 37

Flexible Work and Employment Practices 39

Economic Change and Flexibility 49

Conclusion: Flexibility and Volatility 76

Appendix 2.1: Industry Cluster Analysis 77


3 Flexibility and Intermediation 83

Labor Market Intermediaries 86

Intermediation and Markets 89

Intermediation and Flexible Labor Markets 92

Conclusion: Increasing Intermediation 97

4 Labor Market Intermediaries Private Sector 99

Temporary Help Agencies 102

Consultant Brokerage Firms 110

Web–based Intermediaries 117

Employer of Record 123

Professional Employer Organizations 125

Conclusion: The Labor Market as Business Opportunity 128

5 Labor Market Intermediaries Membership based 130

Blurring Boundaries 132

Silicon Valley Membership–based Intermediaries 138

Conclusion: Building Community–based Careers 175

6 Labor Market Intermediaries Public Sector 177

Workforce Development System 179

Education–based Intermediaries 187

Non profit/Community–based Initiatives 197

Conclusion: Workforce Development Challenges 198


7 Careers in Silicon Valley 203

Growing Inequality 206

Factors Contributing to Inequality 216

Flexibility and Labor Market Outcomes 220

Intermediaries and Labor Market Outcomes 226

Conclusion: Significant Problems Exist 231

Appendix 7.1: Silicon Valley Wage Data 232

8 Flexibility and Security 234

New Concepts for Labor Markets in the Information Economy 238

Intermediaries and Labor Market Policy 247

Labor Flexibility and a New Employment Contract 250

A Final Word 261

References 262

Index 281

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The labor market in Silicon Valley is the likely harbinger of things to come in the rest of the American economy. Chris Benner s analysis of this market s structure should be taken very seriously. He has brought us a vast amount of information that will help policy makers plan for the future.Professor Martin Carnoy, Stanford University

Benner s work on the Silicon Valley s labor markets provides valuable insights for policymakers and activists as well as scholars who care about the future of work and workers in the new economy. ProfessorAnnaLee Saxenian, UC Berkeley

"Chris Benner, in his ground–breaking study of Work in the New Economy has done us an immense favour by offering an alternative way to conceptualize labour markets, a way which not only allows us to capture the dynamics within them, but also helps us move dialectically between structuralist approaches and those rooted in notions of individual agency." International Review of Social History

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