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Thomas A. Kochan

Thomas A. Kochan is George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT. He is Codirector of both the Institute for Work and Employment Research at the Sloan School and the MIT Workplace Center. He is coauthor (with Paul Osterman, Richard M. Locke, and Michael J. Piore) of Working in America: A Blueprint for the New Labor Market (MIT Press, 2002).

Titles by This Author

A Working Families' Agenda for America

Many American families have not prospered in the new "knowledge economy." The layoffs, restructurings, and wage and benefit cuts that have followed the short-lived boom of the 1990s threaten our deeply held values of justice, fairness, family, and work. These values -- and not those superficial ones political pollsters ask about -- are the foundation of the American dream of good jobs, fair pay, and opportunities for all. In this call to action for families, business, labor, and government, Thomas Kochan outlines ways in which we can empower working families to earn a good living by doing satisfying work while still having time for family and community life.We cannot make the transition to a knowledge economy, writes Kochan, with a workforce that is stressed, frustrated, and insecure. Businesses need to rebuild relationships with their employees based on trust. And working families need to take control of their own destinies.First, we can take action that goes beyond the workplace buzzwords flexible and family friendly to design systems that support productive work and healthy family life. We can invest in better basic education and life-long learning, and we can work toward strategies for creating and sustaining good jobs with portable benefits. We need organizations that value investors of human capital -- their employees -- as highly as they do investors of financial capital, and we need a renewed labor movement to give workers a stronger voice. Kochan lays out an agenda for working families in the twenty-first century that calls for business, labor, government, and workers to come together to make the changes that will allow us all to benefit from the new economy. The solution to our problems, he points out, is too important to be left to "the market."

A Blueprint for the New Labor Market

The American labor market faces many deep-rooted problems, including persistence of a large low-wage sector, worsening inequality in earnings, employees' lack of voice in the workplace, and the need of employers to maximize flexibility if they are to survive in an increasingly competitive market. The impetus for this book is the absence of a serious national debate about these issues.

The book represents nearly three years of deliberation by more than 250 people drawn from business, labor, community groups, academia, and government. It traces today's labor-market policy and laws back to the New Deal and to a second wave of social regulation that began in the 1960s. Underlying the current system are assumptions about who is working, what workers do, and how much job security workers enjoy. Economic and social changes have rendered those assumptions invalid and have resulted in mismatches between labor institutions and efficient and equitable deployment of the workforce, as well as between commitments to the labor market and family responsibilities. This book should launch a national dialogue on how to update our policies and institutions to catch up with the changes in the nature of work, in the workforce, and in the economy.

After decades of stability, labor-management relations are undergoing dramatic changes. The contributions collected in this book provide the best and most up-to-date summary of the extent and causes of this upheaval in industrial relations. They discuss challenges to union organizing, employer strategies for union avoidance, corporate investment and decision making, labor market and technological developments, developments in collective bargaining, unions and quality-of-work-life programs, and a comparison of labor movements in Canada and the U.S.

An outgrowth of the Sloan Project, a three-year study of U.S. industrial relations in transition sponsored by the Sloan Foundation, this book brings together an impressive group of labor economists and industrial relations scholars, drawing on a variety of strong, incisive empirical studies.

The contributors include Thomas A. Kochan, Michael J. Piore, Henry S. Farber, Richard B. Freeman, Janice A. Klein, David Wanger, Anil Verma, Lee Price, Robert B. McKersie, Paul Osterman, Harry C. Katz, Peter Cappelli, John T. Joyce, Nancy R. Mower, and Noah M. Meltz.

Thomas Kochan is Professor of Industrial Relations, The Sloan School, MIT.

Titles by This Editor

Inventing and Delivering Its Future

The MIT Sloan School of Management, as conceived by the legendary General Motors chairman Alfred P. Sloan, was founded in 1952 to draw on the scientific and technical resources of MIT and approach the problems of management with the rigorous research practices for which MIT was famous. Fifty years later, the Sloan School gathered international leaders in business and management, MIT faculty, students, and alumni to address again the basic principles that should guide business and management. This book presents the papers prepared by student-faculty teams, speeches by business and world leaders, and summaries of the discussions from this special convocation; taken together, they offer a guide to the future of management based on the hallmarks of MIT and Sloan—creativity and innovation.

The topics considered coalesced around three main themes. First, and paramount, is the necessity of building and maintaining trust by means of openness, transparency, and accountability; this was addressed in speeches by Kofi Annan and Carly Fiorina and exemplified by the case study presented of Nike?s efforts to rebuild the trust of customers. The increasingly complex conditions of the modern global economy emerged as another recurring theme, as the participants considered the effect of the growing spectrum of stakeholders on issues of corporate governance. The third common theme was the inescapability of technological and scientific change, from the Internet as a marketing tool to the organizational impact of information technology.

To address contemporary issues, industrial relations as a field of study will have to take an increasingly international and comparative dimension.

Accordingly, Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy looks at the critical role employment relations play in firm performance and industry competitiveness worldwide. The essays employ a common framework to examine changes in the employment practices of eleven OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Austria, and Japan. They constitute the first phase in a large ongoing project at the Center for Industrial Performance at MIT to update our understanding of comparative industrial relations and human resource policies.

The authors, scholars in economics, political science, sociology, industrial relations and law, first identify a representative set of employment practices and then look at the outcomes of those practices and the changes they are undergoing across different national settings. By collaborating, the contributors seek to clarify the dynamics of employment relations across the world today, and to set the terms of reference for a new generation of international-comparative employment research.