The People and Ideas behind IWER
Welcome to MIT’s IWER. As codirectors, we are proud to carry on the over fifty year tradition at MIT of research and teaching about the changing world of work and employment.
Ever since our unit was founded as the MIT Industrial Relations Section in 1937 (see our People Timeline for some of our alumni and prior directors), our faculty and students have been focused on leading our field through changes in the economy, society, and the workforce by posing new, sometimes controversial theories and ideas; engaging in empirical research that is grounded in current practices; and offering suggestions for public policy and institutional innovations. (See our Ideas Timeline for some of our past work).
To live up to this legacy and keep up with the changing nature of our field, we changed our name in 1997 from the Industrial Relations Section to the Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER). We did so to signal once again a need for our field to broaden its perspectives and initiate a new dialogue over the changing nature of work and the implications of these changes for the policies and institutions that govern employment relations.
Our goal is to stimulate this dialogue in our activities over the next several years. We will keep you up-to-date on our progress through this Director’s Corner on this Web site and through the working papers, articles, books, and other materials we post periodically and through links to other related sites such as those of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and others.
As a start, let us tell you a little about some of our current activities — all aimed at sparking a broad based re-examination and discussion of how to update our institutions and policies to better meet the needs of today’s labor force, employer community, and economy.
Read Thomas Kochan's op-ed on the need for worker unity after the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy. It appeared in the Los Angelos Times, Sept. 26.
The Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership: 2002-2004
This report analyzes the evolution of the Labor Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente (KP) from 2002 to the present time and identifies a set of critical issues and challenges the parties will face in moving forward. We build on and extend our prior report that reviewed the history of the Partnership from the time of its formation in 1997 to 2002.
Diversity and Organizational Performance: Is there a Business Case?
Increasing the numbers of racial minorities and women in positions of leadership in business and society is one of the central managerial challenges and responsibilities of our time.
The question is, how should we think about this challenge? What should organizations be doing today to both meet their diversity and their other business objectives and responsibilities?
Several years ago a business group known as the BOLD Initiative asked a number of academics to examine whether there is a “business case” for promoting diversity in their organizations. The paper that is attached reports on the results of this project.
We find that the effects of race and gender diversity and organizational performance depend on how well a number of intervening group processes (communications, leadership, conflict resolution, etc.) are managed and on several aspects of the larger organizational culture, business strategy, and the demographic make-up of management.
On the basis of these results we suggest the need for going beyond the simple “business case” rhetoric of today that would have some believe that just recruiting more diverse employees will automatically result in better business performance. Instead we suggest that diversity is a reality in today’s customer base and workforce. The challenge is to both attract a diverse workforce and to build the skills and organizational capabilities needed to learn from and benefit from this diversity.
We hope you find this study useful.
- View this paper
The Kaiser Permanente Labor Managment Partnership The First Five Years
This case study analyzes the evolution of the labor management partnership at Kaiser Permanente from its inception in 1997 to June 2002 and identifies a set of critical issues and challenges the parties will face in moving forward. The study and a parallel case analysis of the interest-based bargaining process used to negotiate the 2000-2005 labor agreement constitute the products of the first phase of our research on the partnership. The next phase will track the effects on performance outcomes of partnership initiatives underway in specific workplaces.
- View this case study
Options for Improving Negotiations and Dispute Resolution
Airline Working Group releases report on the options for improving employee and labor relations within the airline industry.
- View this case study