Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three - download pdf or read online

By J. Anthony Lukas

Winner of three varied awards, it is a tale of the busing trouble in Boston.

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Extra resources for Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families

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It’s a team environment, not one individual running the show here. Another interviewee, a department manager responsible for 350 people, including 12 supervisors and a workforce that was about 60% temporary workers, identified the disjuncture between tempwork as corporate-level management envisioned it and tempwork as he experienced it in CompTech’s traditional work system. Expressing frustration about top management’s prohibition on hiring permanent workers, he said, [Top management] doesn’t deal with it.

Yet a fourth production area also fell on the mid-point of the spectrum; this group employed about 50% temps and 50% permanents. Thus, the day-to-day experiences of many temporary workers were indistinguishable from those of permanent workers. Temporaries had accumulated much organization-specific knowledge in the course of their employment. All temps I interviewed had been cross-trained for different positions. Although many positions required simple skill levels, temporaries had had the opportunity to develop a crossorganizational perspective, gaining knowledge of many different functions in their production area.

Significantly, managers were forced to work with a new partner, and more of their time was spent devoted to managing, via this additional institutional actor, the unique dynamics of temporary workers. Thus, as noted by Pfeffer and Baron (1988), Gottfried (1991), Smith (1994), and Uzzi and Barsness (1998), the increased externalization of employment, sometimes used to justify the use of temporary employees because it is hypothesized to reduce the time and costs entailed in administration, in fact has added organizational and temporal complexity to management’s work.

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Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas


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