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Research Findings

Research Findings

How managers shape racialized employee networks in the workplace


February 4, 2020
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Diversity is increasingly recognized as important in the workplace, be it for performance, legitimacy, or social justice reasons, and schools as workplaces are no exception. Three recent trends in education point to the importance of a racially diverse teacher workforce for better student outcomes, especially for racial minority students. 

First, studies in education continually show gains in gifted placement, attendance, and achievement for racial minority students assigned to a racial minority teacher. Second, such “racial matching” is not available to many racial minority students because of racial segregation in schools. While more than 50% of US public school children are nonwhite, only 20% of public school teachers in the US are nonwhite. Third, nonwhite teachers have higher levels of turnover than white teachers.

We need a deeper understanding of not only how schools recruit teachers of color, but also how organizational conditions in schools can better retain teachers of color. These insights can be applied to similar organizational settings where diversity management is consequential for client/customer experiences and outcomes (e.g., hospitals, retail), or to any workplace concerned with racial equity in employees’ access to workplace resources post-hire.

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Research Findings

Volunteer work increases income but only among workers in higher-level occupations

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January 30, 2020

Many people today, spend some of their spare time doing volunteer work in the belief that it will be looked upon favorably by employers and lead to better-paying jobs. 

A recent analysis of longitudinal data from the United Kingdom published in Social Science Research confirms that they are correct, but only for those with jobs in the “salariat” – professionals, managers, administrators and the like – while working class volunteers pay a penalty for their altruism.

This topic is of considerable interest today because recent developments in the economies of advanced industrial societies have changed the social contract between employers and employees. As employment has become more precarious, workers find they can no longer rely on a system where opportunities are defined internally by tenure or rank; instead, they must market themselves. Under constant pressure to prepare for the next job, they are advised to network assiduously, learn new skills by returning to school, and even take classes on writing persuasive job applications and performing well in interviews. In some cases they are advised to take unpaid or marginally paid positions such as internships or to perform volunteer work. 

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Research Findings

Unequal school access shapes ethnic boundaries in students’ identities and friendships

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January 21, 2020

Every school year, a new cohort of parents faces the challenge of finding the right school for their child – each year with a disheartening result: ethnic minority children tend to end up at schools of lower prestige and quality. Intriguingly, this ethnic stratification across schools affects not only their further school careers, but it profoundly shapes minority students’ identities and their social relationships with their classmates.

Ethnic stratification, the uneven distribution of majority and minority children across schools of different prestige, is widespread: in various countries, at various school transitions, and in various school systems. A substantial share of the ethnic and racial inequalities we observe in modern societies originates from ethnic stratification in the school system.

But schools provide more than grades and certificates. It is here where youth form lasting friendships, where they develop their views, attitudes, and identities. Does unequal school sorting not only create unequal life chances but also produce stronger ethnic boundaries in the minds and relations of youth?

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Research Findings

How privileged mothers experience unemployment


January 14, 2020

The six month period before she lost her job had been painful for Doris Richards (all names are pseudonyms). A lawyer who worked at a family-run firm, Doris was convinced that the owners were trying to elbow her out of their firm by making her working life miserable. When they finally did, Doris felt a sense of relief. She says, “One of the things I felt was, ‘Oh good, I can go to [events my kids are involved in]…I have more time now. I don’t feel pulled. I don’t feel as though I’m being tortured at work anymore. And I felt I could give more to my kids.”

This may seem like an unusual response to unemployment, especially given that Doris earned considerably more than her husband who is in the public sector.

In my recent article, I show how unemployment – whether they were fired, made redundant, or laid off – was a different experience for college-educated, professional, married heterosexual mothers than what prior theories of unemployment, often drawing largely from men’s experiences, would indicate.

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Research Findings

Why women (and firms) lose out when we celebrate diversity

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January 9, 2020

At the beginning of October, Melinda Gates announced she would commit $1 billion in the fight for gender equality in the United States, and that one of her key priorities is to “mobilize shareholders” to put pressure on companies to improve diversity practices.

But do shareholders really value gender diversity? Research on the relationship between firm value and the appointment of women CEOs or directors has yielded mixed findings. At best, efforts to increase female representation have no impact on the firm’s market performance.

In some cases, however, shareholders will actually penalize firms for appointing women to senior leadership positions.

This seems counter-intuitive, given how much attention there has been in the press on stakeholders insisting that companies diversify their boards. Surely shareholders should be rewarding the companies that meet the challenge, not punishing them?

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Research Findings

What comes after the corporation?

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January 7, 2020

When we think about the power of business in our society, we tend to think about corporations. With rising income inequality in America and with record breaking levels of campaign contributions in each election cycle, it’s no surprise that large majorities of Americans feel corporations have too much power.

Strange as it may sound, corporate power is less concentrated in America than in the past: the number of corporations has actually fallen in the United States since the 1980s and they are no longer as large and integrated as they were in the Mad Men era (think of General Motors in its heyday).

In a recent paper, we highlight how the business elite are increasingly tied to non-corporate organizations like limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships (LPs). We find that families in the top 1% of the income distribution – especially white families and men in this elite stratum – disproportionately benefit from these organizations.

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Research Findings

Is health care the new manufacturing?

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January 2, 2020

In many – if not most – communities across the United States, large health systems have increasingly become centers of job growth and economic development. Many cities and towns have watched manufacturers leave their communities, often taking with them “good jobs” that used to be available to their working-class residents.

Health systems have now replaced manufacturers as leading employers in town, but what kinds of jobs does the health sector provide for the working-class? We know that the health sector provides high quality jobs for workers with advanced degrees, such as physicians, pharmacists, and administrators. But does the health care sector provide “good jobs” for men and women without a college degree?

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Research Findings

Working moms want to find middle ground, not make sacrifices between work and family


December 30, 2019

Flexible work arrangements, which enable people to voluntarily change when and where they work, are stigmatized in American workplaces due to a belief that flexible work patterns reflect an insufficient commitment to work. Yet, I find that the use of these arrangements is associated with heightened, not diminished, levels of work devotion among working mothers.

This finding contradicts the commonly held view that to effectively manage job and family responsibilities, one must make sacrifices or trade-offs between ambitions at work and at home. As “trade-offs,” strategies are portrayed within the context of a zero-sum relationship between work and family—a view which upholds the “sperate spheres ideology” that has long legitimized traditional breadwinning men and homemaking women arrangements.

In a recently published article, I suggest that work-family strategies exist as a “buffet” of options, characterized not just by the institution (work or family) that is adjusted when adopted but also by their associated moral weight. Said differently, strategies are embedded within symbolic landscapes that render certain options more accessible, appropriate or desirable than others.

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Research Findings

Can workplaces foster equality?


December 19, 2019

Work organizations are often seen as the engines of inequality: they sort people into jobs with different opportunities, they pay people differently, and they reserve power for a select few.  But we know far less about how organizations foster equality in the workplace by allowing occupational mobility, reducing wage disparities, and distributing power among many.

In a recent article, I examine one workplace that adopted such equality-producing practices. Over nearly a decade, I conducted research on worker-recuperated businesses in Argentina, which are companies that have converted from privately-owned enterprises into worker-controlled cooperatives. Today, there are nearly 400 worker-recuperated businesses operating in Argentina. And most of these are organized as worker cooperatives that are owned and operated by their members.

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Research Findings

Professionalizing contingency: How journalism schools adapt to deprofessionalization

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December 11, 2019

Contemporary professionals face increased precarity in all aspects of their work. They have less control over their schedules, less autonomy from clients and organizations, and weaker professional identities than in the past. Sociologists refer to these broad changes as deprofessionalization.

Deprofessionalization is particularly pronounced in the field of journalism. In recent decades, corporate consolidation, the internet, and the rise of powerful technology platform companies have profoundly altered the journalism landscape and the journalism labor market.

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