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Shaping the Future of Work: MIT Sloan Professor’s new book lays out a comprehensive strategy to change the course of the country’s economy and employment system

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., December 8, 2015 –What can replace the long-term economic security that, for many Americans, used to come along with employment? How out-of-date are current employment policies? Can American businesses hope to compete against lower-wage competitors from around the globe? Where will the funds needed to train a 21st century workforce come from? And if not within a traditional labor movement, where will the next generation of workers organize to create and maintain a next-generation social contract?

In Shaping the Future of Work: What Future Worker, Business, Government, and Education Leaders Need To Do For All To Prosper (Business Expert Press / December 7, 2015),Thomas Kochan taps into 40 years of experience gained as a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and from serving on the front lines of labor-management negotiations to answer these and other weighty questions. He further culls ideas and solutions from his direct engagement with next generation workers who participated in an MIT online course devoted to the future of work.  

Through passion and empirical research, Kochan lays out a comprehensive strategy to change the course the American economy and employment system has been taking over the past 30 years with the goal of creating more productive businesses that provide good jobs and careers and, by doing so, results in a more inclusive economy and broadly shared prosperity.  

Shaping the Future of Work reviews what worked well for average American workers, families, and the economy during the era of the post-World War II Social Contract, why that contract broke down, and how, with multiple stakeholders, a new social contract suitable to today's economy and workforce can be forged.

Kochan spotlights the dramatic struggle for control of Massachusetts grocery chain Market Basket in which a broad coalition of workers and customers united to ultimately save a business from short-sighted shareowners hoping to extract more cash for their pockets.  He digs further into GM’s bold experiment into new models of labor-management relations with the Saturn Corporation with an eye on what worked, what didn’t, and why. Walmart and Costco, meanwhile, illustrate the differences between what he cites as low-road and high-road business strategies. But although Costco demonstrates that a company can treat its employees well and still achieve world-class productivity, Kochan looks at why more companies don’t follow suit.

Shaping the Future of Work shows that it takes a good sense of history, clear strategic vision, and, perhaps most of all, individual and collective action to propose a path forward, one that is informed but not trapped by what worked in the past. 

About the Author

Thomas A. Kochan, is the George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research. From 2009 to 2011, he served as Chair of the MIT Faculty. In 2010, Kochan led the formation of the Employment Policy Research Network, an online think tank on the subject of employment. In 2015, he was honored by the Aspen Institute with a Faculty Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award for his research and teaching on business practices that contribute to an economy that works for all.

Kochan is the author of Restoring the American Dream: A Working Families' Agenda for America, and the co-author of numerous books including An Introduction to Collective Bargaining & Industrial Relations, Labor Relations in a Globalizing World, and Employment Relations in a Changing World Economy. He holds a BBA in Personnel Management and an MS and a PhD in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin.

About the MIT Sloan School of Management

The MIT Sloan School of Management is where smart, independent leaders come together to solve problems, create new organizations, and improve the world. Learn more at mitsloan.mit.edu