Past Events

Emotional Labour as Skilled Work? Managing Service User Emotions in the Public Services

Barclay Room, Green Templeton College

Ian Kessler
Professor of Public Policy & Management, King's College London

Economic Crisis and the Quality of Work

Professor Duncan Gallie
CBE Official Fellow & Professor of Sociology - Nuffield College

How has the quality of work been changing in Britain as a result of the economic crisis? Has the crisis involved a Schumpeterian process of 'creative destruction' that has accelerated improvements in the nature of jobs or has it led to deterioration in working conditions? The presentation draws on new evidence from the British Skills and Employment Surveys, which provide representative evidence for the British workforce between 1986 and 2012, to examine the trends in job skills, employee involvement, work intensity, job security and employee well-being. It considers the implications of recent trends for scenarios of the future of work.

Duncan Gallie has served as Vice President and Foreign Secretary of the British Academy. He was appointed as a Commander of the British Empire for Services to Social Science in 2008. Duncan's celebrated research is in economic sociology, in particular the quality of work and the social consequences.

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The Perils of Precarity

Professor Arne Kalleberg
Kenan Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina

Precarious work has emerged as a serious challenge and a major concern in industrial societies. By "precarious work" I refer to the uncertainty, instability and insecurity of work in which employees bear the risks of work (as opposed to businesses or the government) and receive limited social benefits and statutory entitlements. The spread of precarious work has had profound and far-reaching consequences for individuals, families and communities that go well beyond the workplace. I will discuss the implications of precarious work for social precarity more generally. Examples of these wide-ranging outcomes include: economic insecurity and inequality; the transition to adulthood and family formation; and individual wellbeing and happiness. I'll also discuss the kinds of social policies that are needed to confront the spread of precarity.

Arne Kalleberg has served as President of the American Sociological Association. He is a renowned authority on the sociology of work, having published an extensive range of books and articles in this area. Arne's visit to Oxford is in collaboration with the Novak Druce Centre for Professional Service Firms, Said Business School.

Meaningful Work - A Luxury Good or Fundamental Human Need?

Ruth Yeoman
Research Fellow, Kellogg College

Although desirable, meaningful work is generally treated as a luxury good and an elite preoccupation
rather than a fundamental human need. This allows meaningful work to be theorised as a preference in the market, thereby avoiding the challenge to liberal neutrality which arises when meaningful work is constituted as a necessary part of the human good. However, evidence of the negative impact of non-meaningful work makes this strategy normatively unsatisfactory. To understand the content of meaningful work, I draw upon moral philosophy and critical social theory, in particular Susan Wolf's distinct bipartite value of meaningfulness (BVM). In order to incorporate the BVM into our lives, we must become co-creators of values and meanings, which means acquiring the relevant capabilities and status as co-authorities in the realm of value. Because of its importance as a fundamental human need, I claim that meaningful work is the legitimate object of political action. This implies that society ought to be arranged to allow as many people as possible to experience their work as meaningful by developing the relevant capabilities through institutional belonging, such as workplace democracy.

Ruth Yeoman is a Research Fellow (Kellogg College) and Associate Fellow (Said Business School). She has worked as a management consultant, political advocate, and in academia, specialising in meaningful work and workplace democracy. Ruth has served on the Liberal Democrat policy working group on 'Mutualisation, Employee Ownership and Workplace Democracy'.

Obstacles to improvement in surgical teamwork

Steve New
Said Business School

This discussion focused on challenges of applying lean management methods to surgical work, and will draw on the experiences of a major study funded by the National Institute of Health Research. The session outlined some of the main ideas and critiques of lean methodologies, and some of the practical lessons drawn from this and previous studies.

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The New World of Team Work

Richard Freeman
Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University, National Bureau of Economic Research, LSE.

Science, technology and business innovation increasingly rely on teams to produce output. In science, the trend is for multi-authored papers, often from people in different locations around the world. In technology and the drug business, the team production consists of locating different activities in different parts of the world, some through subcontractors, and through devolving risky R&D to small or university startups that are eventually bought by larger enterprises. Business pay structure has responded to this with more group incentive pay. Science is struggling to deal with the allocation of credit on multi-authored papers. The drug how to develop new medicines with its new division of activity.

This lecture examined evidence on 1) the rise of teams; 2) impact of different pay systems on production; 3) the problems of obtaining fair and ef´Čücient divisions of responsibility and reward.

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The future of international news reporting

Melanie Bunce
DPhil Student - Politics and International Relations

Over the past two decades, major news organisations around the world have radically cut the number of foreign correspondents they post abroad. In their place, local-national journalists are becoming one of the main providers of international news. The BBC - a bastion of British reporting around the world - will be cutting its number of foreign correspondents over the next three years, and hiring local-national journalists in their place.

What do these changes mean for the foreign correspondent profession? And how will these changes impact the international news that we receive in the UK and around the world?

This talk drew on extensive research with foreign and local-national correspondents in East Africa, and flagged up a number of issues for the future of foreign news production. The world we read about in the news is about to become more local, global and cosmopolitan - but at what cost?

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Varieties of training, qualifications, and skills in long-term care: A German, Japanese, UK comparison

Professor Howard Gospel and Professor Makiko Nishikawa

Building an Inclusive Workforce in the Wake of the Economic Crisis

How and why should the European Union, and its member states, seek to establish an inclusive workforce in the context of economic recovery? These questions need to be answered with clarity. They are, however, likely to be addressed in different, sometimes contested, ways.

The Workshop was designed to help stakeholders identify and develop areas of substantive and procedural agreement and difference as they relate to these issues, so paving the way for more constructive decision making and policy formation.

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Who needs migrant workers? Labour shortages, immigration and public policy

Future of Work Termly Seminar
Dr Martin Ruhs
Director of the Migration Observatory, Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS)


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