About Us

The People and Ideas Behind IWER
PhD Program
IWER Directors
Professional Leadership
Thought Leadership & Collaborations
Research Timeline

The People and Ideas Behind IWER

MIT has conducted critical research into the processes and policies of work and employmentsince 1937 with the founding of the MIT Industrial Relations Section. 

Renamed the Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER) in 1997, IWER continues to transform our understanding of employment and labor relations, the workforce, and the economy.

IWER faculty and students are investigating new and sometimes controversial theories and ideas. They are engaging in empirical research that is grounded in current practices. And they are initiating a new dialogue around the changing nature of work and the implications of those changes on the policies and institutions that govern employment relations.

PhD in Management – IWER Research Group

IWER offers an interdisciplinary PhD program within MIT Sloan that blends institutional understanding with advanced analytical training in social science methodology. The program is designed for students who are seeking broad training in human resource management, contemporary labor-management relations, negotiations and conflict management, public policy, employment practices, and other aspects of the labor market.

Coursework in the program addresses work and employment relations theory and research, labor economics, comparative systems of industrial relations and political economy, collective bargaining and labor management relations, management of human resources, sociology of work, labor market institutions, and public policy.

weekly seminar brings together faculty and students from across MIT and from other universities to discuss late-breaking research.

Download an application to the MIT Sloan PhD Program.

PhD Graduates 1940-60s

  • George Shultz, Dean, University of Chicago, Secretary of Labor, Treasury, & State
  • Arnold Weber, University of Chicago, President, Northwestern
  • David Lipsky, Dean, Cornell School of Industrial & Labor Relations
  • Daniel Mitchell, Director Institute of Industrial Relations, UCLA

PhD Graduates 1980-present

  • 36 PhD graduates as of June 2013
  • University placements: Harvard (3), Wharton (2), Rutgers (2), Case Western (2), LSE (2) and one each at Cornell, Chicago, Columbia, UCLA, Illinois, Michigan State, UBC, Toronto, St. Johns, Western Ont., Oregon, Simon Fraser, INSEAD, LBS, Penn State, and University of the Western Cape, New South Wales, McMaster, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Northwestern. McGill, UC-Irvine, SKK, Minnesota, and Oxford.
  • 3 have won the Zannetos Award for the best MIT Sloan dissertation
  • 6 have been awarded the Industrial Relations Research Association’s Young Scholar Award

IWER Directors

  • W. Rupert MacLaurin, 1937-43
  • Douglas McGregor, 1943-49
  • Charles Myers, 1949-80
  • Robert McKersie/Tom Kochan 1980-92
  • Paul Osterman/Tom Kochan 1992-present

Professional Leadership

Presidents of the Industrial Relations Research Association

  • Charles Myers
  • Douglas Brown
  • Phyllis Wallace
  • Robert McKersie
  • Thomas Kochan

President of the Society for Socio-Economics

  • Michael Piore
  • Kathleen Thelen

President of the International Industrial Relations Association

  • Thomas Kochan

Thought Leadership & Collaborations

  • Professional Seminar on Strategic Negotiations—with University of Illinois and Harvard Program on Negotiations
  • Interest Based Negotiations—professional workshop for labor and management professionals.      
  • Employment Policy Research Network—founded this national resource for media, policymakers, industry and labor professionals, which integrates the research, blogs, op-eds, working papers, and videos of more than 50 researchers from more than 30 universities.
  • The Massachusetts Education Partnership—a multi-stakeholder consortium devoted to promoting education innovation in student attainment through use of state-of-the-art collaborative labor management relationships and processes.

Research Timeline

1980s:  Challenged the industrial relations field to recognize and understand fundamental changes in employment relations.

1984: The Second Industrial Divide / Piore, Sabel

1986: The Transformation of American Industrial Relations / Kochan, Katz, McKersie

1987: Employment Futures / Osterman

1990s: Created and led the HR Network and, through MIT Sloan students, the study of high-performance or knowledge-based work systems and their impacts on organizational performance.

1990s: Created and led an international network of researchers to develop more systematic ways of comparing changes in work and employment relations across countries, industries, and regions.

1995: Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy / Locke, Kochan, Piore

1994: Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiation reprinted / Walton, McKersie

1994: Strategic Negotiations / Walton, Cutcher-Gershenfeld, McKersie, updated and reprinted with more strategic focus

2000-present: Identified and analyzed the breakdown in the social contract at work and the growing gap between the nature of modern work and the modern workforce and the policies, institutions, and practices governing employment relationships.

2002: Working in America: A Blueprint for the New Labor Market / Osterman, Kochan, Locke, Piore

2003: Gathering Power: The Future of Progressive Politics in America / Osterman

2005: Restoring the American Dream: A Working Families’ Agenda for America / Kochan

2005: The Human Side of Enterprise / McGregor(reissued annotated version)

2007: Dynamic Analysis in the Social Sciences / Castilla

2008: The Truth About Middle Managers / Osterman

2009: Healing Together: The Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership /Kochan, McKersie, Eaton, Adler

2009: Up in the Air: How Airlines Can Achieve High Performance by Engaging their Workforce / Bamber, Hoffer Gittell, Kochan, von Nordenflycht

2011: Good Jobs America / Osterman, Shulman

2013:  Not Hired:  The Search for Good Jobs in the U.S. and Israel  / Sharone