Work and Organization Studies

IWER Seminars

The Work and Organization Studies group is a hub for the study of work, employment, and organizations, and is host to one of the longest-running seminar series at MIT. These weekly seminars attract researchers from across the Institute and around the world. Unless otherwise noted, IWER seminars take place from 12:30-2:30 pm on Tuesdays in E62-346.

Current Seminars

  • February 4, 2020

    Nathan WilmersMIT Sloan School of Management
    Aligning Inequalities: Organizational Sources of Wage Inequality, 1999-2018

    The two main sources of pay premiums in the US labor market---occupation and workplace---have increasingly coalesced into a single axis of advantage.  High- and low-skilled occupations are more likely to be employed at corresponding high- and low-paying workplaces.  Drawing on restricted-use US occupation-by-workplace microdata, we show that half of increased wage inequality since 1999 is due to this rising correlation of workplace and occupation pay premiums.  What drives increased alignment between these inequalities?  We rule out shifting industry composition and firm entry and exit.  The main source of alignment is organizational changes in job structure and pay rates.  Consistent with prior research, increased outsourcing and the rise of high-paying, high-skill star firms both contribute to inequality alignment.  A smaller part is attributable to pay cuts and upskilling by high-paying employers of low-skilled workers, like those in manufacturing and transportation.  But, the largest source of increased alignment is that some low-paying but high-professional share workplaces, like hospitals and schools, have deskilled their jobs, while others have raised pay.  These sectors are often government regulated or run, suggesting scope for policy intervention in this process.  Broadly, the results demonstrate an understudied way that organizations affect wage inequality: not by directly increasing variability in workplace or occupation premiums, but by aligning these two sources of inequality.

  • February 11, 2020

    Diane E. Bailey, Cornell University


    Expanding University Audit Cultures and Opaque Metrics: The New Technologies of Control

    Abstract: Prompted by a new managerialism whose roots lie in neoliberal economic policies, the rise of university “audit cultures” over the past three decades has increased the potential for administrative control of the work of professors. In this talk, I explore how the new data and analytics systems that have become ubiquitous in the everyday work of professors are well poised to expand university audit cultures by enabling the rising quantification that measures,monitors, and controls professors’ work performance. After summarizing literature that documents the emergence of audit cultures in universities, I will describe the various data and analytics systems currently available for university and professor use in each area of professors’ work: teaching, research, and service. I will discuss current features of these systems and the potential back-end analytics that could be performed with the data that system use generates and suggest how these analytics might prompt new metrics as additional control mechanisms over professors as administrators face increasing pressure to run universities in a corporatized manner. The talk will conclude with consideration of possible outcomes of and responses to such an expansion of university audit cultures.

  • February 18, 2020

    No Seminar

  • February 25, 2020

     Sarah DamaskePennState
    Job Loss and the Second Shift

    When you lose your job, you gain time. But does this time bonus fundamentally change how the newly unemployed divide household labor? This paper uses data from a sample of 100 qualitative interviews with working- and middle- class men and women to parse out exactly how and why the unemployed take up (or don’t) additional housework and childcare chores. Women did more of the routine household chores than men did before they lost their jobs. After a job loss, men’s chores increased just a bit. In contrast, most women (particularly working-class women) became primarily responsible for all routine tasks. Likewise, women did more childcare before they lost their jobs; afterwards the majority of middle- and working-class women reported that they alone were responsible for childcare tasks. In contrast, post job loss, the majority of men now shared childcare equally and about a quarter had wives who remained primarily responsible for the children. The unemployed women were not comfortable leaving chores undone for their working spouses; the unemployed men were. Moreover, men did not connect feelings of guilt about their job loss to their additional free time at home or their need to do more household, but women commonly did.

  • March 3, 2020

     Zoe CullenHarvard Business School
    The Old Boys' Club: Schmoozing and the Gender Gap 

    Offices are social places. Employees and managers take coffee breaks together, go to lunch, hang out over drinks, and talk about family and hobbies. In this study, we provide evidence that social interactions with the manager can be advantageous for career progression, and that this phenomenon can account for a significant share of the gender pay gap. We use administrative and survey data from a large financial institution. We estimate the causal effect of managers' gender on their employees' career progression by means of an event- study analysis of manager rotation. We find that when male employees are assigned to male managers, they are promoted faster in the following years than they would have been if they were assigned to female managers; female employees, on the contrary, have the same career progression regardless of the manager's gender. These differences are not accompanied by any differences in effort or performance, and can explain a third of the gender gap in promotions at this firm. Then, we provide evidence that the effects are driven by the social interactions with their managers. We show that the effects are more pronounced for employees who work in close proximity to their manager and coincide with an uptake in the share of breaks taken with the manager. Last, we show that a different shock to social interactions has similar effects even among male employees: when male employees who smoke transition to male managers who smoke, they take breaks with their managers more often and are subsequently promoted at higher rates.

  • March 10, 2020

    CANCELLED: Christina Ciocca EllerHarvard University

  • March 17, 2020

    No Seminar

  • March 25, 2020

    No Seminar

  • March 31, 2020

    CANCELLED: Shannon GleesonCornell University

  • April 7, 2020

    CANCELLED: Greg DistelhorstUniversity of Toronto

  • April 14, 2020

    CANCELLED: David WeilBrandeis

  • April 21, 2020

    CANCELLED: Duanyi YangMIT Sloan School of Management

  • April 28, 2020

    CANCELLED: Alex Kowalski and Erin KellyMIT Sloan School of Management

  • May 5, 2020

    CANCELLED: Peter Q. Blair, Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • May 12, 2020

    CANCELLED: Thomas KochanMike PiorePaul Osterman, MIT Sloan School of Management

Past Seminars

  • Sep 12, 2017

    Reconvening Discussion

  • Sep 19, 2017

    Adam Cobb, Wharton, Management Department

    The Effects of Pay Dispersion and Work-Unit Demography on Employee Turnover Download Abstract

  • Sep 26, 2017

    Aruna Ranganathan, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Organizational Behavior

    Stooping Down to Succeed: How Female Supervisors Motivate Worker Productivity in an Indian Garment Factory Download Abstract

  • Oct 3, 2017

    Amanda Pallais, Harvard University, Dept. of Economics

    Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements Download Abstract & Paper

  • Oct 17, 2017

    John Van ReenenMIT Sloan School of Management, Applied Economics

    The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms Download Abstract

  • Oct 31, 2017

    Heejung Chung, University of Kent, UK, School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

    Why Flexible Working Does Not Always Reduce Work-Family Conflict Download Abstract

  • Nov 7, 2017

    Dionne Pohler, University of Toronto, Centre for Industrial Relations & Human Resources

    The Compliance Behavior of Multinationals in a Developed Country: An Empirical Assessment of Regulatory Employment Practices Using Administrative Data From Ontario  Download Abstract

  • Nov 14, 2017

    Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Brandeis
    Neil Gershenfeld, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms
    Alan Gershenfeld, E-Line Media

    The Future of Work in the Third Digital Revolution:  What if Anyone Could Make (almost) Anything? Download Introduction

  • Nov 21, 2017

    Jackson Lu, Columbia Business School

    Joint IWER/OS Seminar, 12:30 – 2:30pm in room E62-350

    Global Leader or Foreign Traitor? The Divergent Effects of International Experiences on Leadership Effectiveness vs. Leadership Selection Download Abstract

  • Nov 28, 2017

    Teresa GhilarducciThe New School for Social Research

    Nudge Economics and Working Longer: Inadequate Responses to the Retirement Time Inequality Download Abstract

  • Dec 5, 2017

    Alex Kowalski, MIT Sloan School of Management

    Does It Matter That There is No “I” in “Team”? Evaluating the trade-offs of individual- and group-based incentives in a single setting Download Abstract

  • Dec 12, 2017

    Thomas Kochan, Erin Kelly, William Kimball, and Duanyi Yang

    Worker Voice in America:  A Current Assessment and Exploration of Options Download Abstract

  • Feb 06, 2018

    Megan Larcom, Jenny Weissbourd, Jeremy Avins (MBA Students (MIT Sloan HKS dual-degree program)

    New Forms of Worker Voice in the 21st Century

  • Feb 13, 2018

    Kathleen McGinn, Harvard Business School

    Breaking from Tradition: Women’s Labor Force Participation and Investments in Females in Rural Gujarat, 1981-2011
    Download Abstract

  • Feb 27, 2018

    Jody Hoffer-Gittell, Brandeis University

    Relational Coordination Theory: A Systematic Review of Evidence Across Countries and Industries
    Download Abstract

  • Mar 06, 2018

    Justin Steil, MIT Urban Planning

  • Mar 13, 2018

    Simon Jager, MIT Economics

  • Apr 03, 2018

    Erin Kelly, MIT  IWER

    Making Work Work: Work Redesign at the Work-Life Frontier
    Download Abstract

  • Apr 10, 2018

    Chris Winship, Harvard University, Dept. of Sociology

    Inchoate Situations and Extra-Rational Behavior
    Download Abstract

  • Apr 24, 2018

    Kevin Lang, Boston University, Dept. of Economics

    The Determinants of Teachers’ Occupational Choice
    Download Abstract

  • May 01, 2018

    Paul Osterman, MIT IWER & Michael Piore, MIT Economics

    In Search of the High Road:  What Is It and Does It Exist?
    Download Paper

  • May 08, 2018

    Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania, Sociology

    Driverless and Door to Door? Autonomous Trucks, Ecommerce, the “Uberization” of Freight and the Future of the American Trucker
    Download Abstract

  • May 15, 2018

    Hilary Robinson, Wesleyan