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Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley

ISBN: 978-0-631-23249-0
312 pages
October 2002, Wiley-Blackwell
Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley (0631232494) cover image
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.

  • Contributes to our understanding of the transformation of work in the information economy, through a detailed examination of labor markets in Silicon Valley.
  • Provides an original and insightful analysis of flexible labor including growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations.
  • Examines the increasingly important role of labor market intermediaries.
  • Shows that some workers clearly thrive in this vibrant context, but many face high levels of insecurity admist growing inquality.
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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

PART I FLEXIBILITY AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF WORK AND EMPLOYMENT 11

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

PART II FLEXIBILITY AND INTERMEDIARIES 81

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

PART III FLEXIBILITY AND CAREERS 201

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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Chris Benner is an Assistant Professor of Geography at the Pennsylvania State University and a Research Associate at both the Sociology of Work Program at the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) and the Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has written extensively on workforce development and training systems, labor flexibility, non-standard employment, employment insecurity, regional development policy, dynamics of occupational learning networks, and new forms of labor organizing. His publications have appeared in a range of both academic journals and more popular outlets. He received his doctorate in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
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  • Contributes to our understanding of the transformation of work in the information economy, through a detailed examination of labor markets in Silicon Valley.
  • Provides an original and insightful analysis of flexible labor including growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations.
  • Examines the increasingly important role of labor market intermediaries.
  • Shows that some workers clearly thrive in this vibrant context, but many face high levels of insecurity admist growing inquality.
See More
“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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