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Edited by Keith Townsend and Adrian Wilkinson
Chapter 8: Employment Relations and Managerial Work: An International Perspective
* John Hassard, Leo McCann and Jonathan Morris INTRODUCTION The sub-prime financial crisis that erupted in 2007 has once again stimulated widespread concern about the structure, behaviour and ethics of large corporations (especially American corporations). Most discussion has focused at the summit of the organization, on corporate governance, new financial instruments and executive reward systems (Bogle, 2008; Kaplan, 2008; Walsh, 2008). Several analysts have argued that the American ‘model’ of business has lost much of its appeal following the sub-prime disaster (Capelli, 2009; Whitley, 2009). While not wishing to dismiss these concerns, this chapter suggests that there are also some other major problems taking place on a daily basis in organizational life, further down the corporate hierarchy, that are equally as important as the debates about ‘top-end’ corporate governance. In light of recent events in the corporate landscape, which have involved increasingly tough international competition alongside financial crises, scandals and corporate failures, the issue of just how well-run large companies are is of major concern. Amidst this discussion, there is concern in the academic (Green, 2006) as well as the more popular (Bunting, 2004; Fraser, 2001) literature about a distinct decline in the quality of working life for millions of employees in advanced OECD nations. This has long been an issue for blue-collar work but in recent decades it has also become increasingly relevant to white-collar, middle class occupations such as professionals and managers (Cameron et al., 1991; Hochschild, 2003). New organizational forms have involved flatter hierarchies, which squeeze out middle...
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