National Employment Systems and Job Autonomy: Why Job Autonomy Is High in the Nordic Countries and Low in the United States, Canada, and Australia

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National Employment Systems and Job Autonomy: Why Job Autonomy Is High in the Nordic Countries and Low in the United States, Canada, and Australia

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Title: National Employment Systems and Job Autonomy: Why Job Autonomy Is High in the Nordic Countries and Low in the United States, Canada, and Australia
Author: Dobbin, Frank; Boychuk, Terry

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Citation: Dobbin, Frank, and Terry Boychuk. 1999. National employment systems and job autonomy: Why job autonomy is high in the Nordic countries and low in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Organization Studies 20, no. 2: 257–291.
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Abstract: We present evidence that, across countries, similar jobs carry very different levels of autonomy. Workers in Nordic countries have greater discretion than workers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, all else being equal. This suggests that students of job autonomy, who emphasize task complexity and human capital, should heed the role of the wider institutional environment. We examine three explanations of the link between national location and autonomy. The Taylorism/de-skilling thesis suggests that work control is a zero-sum game between workers and managers, such that in countries where managers exercise great control, workers will exercise little. The collective bargaining thesis suggests that union bargaining strategy is the key: unionists will have high autonomy in `co-determination' countries and low autonomy in `job control' countries. We argue more broadly that national management, training, bargaining, and unemployment systems operate according to different logics. Where they are oriented to rule-governed work, autonomy will be low. Where they are oriented to skill-governed work, autonomy will be high. Detailed data on job autonomy from over seven thousand jobs in seven countries support our contention that national employment systems shape job autonomy.
Published Version: doi:10.1108/S0733-558X(2010)000030B006
Other Sources: http://scholar.harvard.edu/dobbin/publications/national-employment-systems-and-job-autonomy-why-autonomy-high-nordic-countries-
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:32970027
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