“The workforce, nature of work, and the economy have all changed dramatically in recent years, while the institutions and policies governing work and employment relationships remain tailored to the industrial economy of the past. The central research challenge of our generation is to identify how to best update our policies, institutions, and workplace practices and systems to fit the needs of modern working families, employers, and a global, knowledge-driven economy and a diverse workforce and society.”
This statement captures the perspective faculty and students at the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER) bring to their research, teaching, and public service. We conduct research and educational activities on the broad range of work, employment, and labor market issues and policies. Our goals are to create and advance knowledge on these topics, to education and train the next generation academic leaders in our field, and to make positive contributions to improving the public policies, organizational practices, and institutions that shape the world of work in the U.S. and across the globe.
IWER was first established as the MIT Industrial Relations Section in 1937. In 1998 we adopted the new IWER name to better reflect the breadth of research on work and employment we carry out.
IWER is housed within the MIT Sloan School of Management and has affiliated faculty from Sloan and the Departments of Economics, Political Science, Anthropology, Urban Studies and Planning, and the Engineering Systems Division. Within Sloan IWER Faculty are part of the Work and Organizational Studies Group.
These diverse affiliations and the close working relationships with colleagues across the campus support a highly interdisciplinary and rigorous PhD program, a weekly research seminar, and a wide array of research projects.
A sampling of current research projects include:
- Studies of how to achieve flexibility in organizing and scheduling work to better integrate work and personal responsibilities and improve organizational performance and health outcomes.
- Study of what it will take to achieve a “New Social Contract” for the next generation workforce that includes an on-line “MOOC” course for workers around the world.
- Examination of the changing mix of jobs in the health care industry with a focus on ways low wage workers can upgrade their job and career opportunities.
- Comparison of new strategies for enforcing labor and environmental standards in developing economies.
- Examination of ways to eliminating unintended discrimination and inequities in hiring, compensation, and promotion and other human resource practices.
- Research and active efforts to foster innovations and improve performance of Massachusetts public schools by using state-of-the art negotiations and problem solving processes.
- Projects sponsored under IWER’s Good Companies-Good Jobs Initiative aimed at understanding how firms can achieve both good financial performance and create and sustain high quality jobs and careers.
- Projects supported by the Mary Rowe Fund for Conflict Management that address tensions and micro-inequities in workplaces and communities through integrated conflict management systems.
IWER’s PhD program is recognized as a flagship in our field. Our graduates have been recruited for faculty positions in a wide range of leading universities around the world including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, Cornell, Toronto, INSEAD, London School of Economics, London Business School, and many more. See a complete list of recent graduates and placements.