Review of Virginia Doellgast, Disintegrating Democracy at Work: Labor Unions and the Future of Good Jobs in the Service Economy
Administrative Science Quarterly 58(1):152-154, 2013
5 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 14, 2013
Determined to figure out whether there is any hope for service-sector workers caught in the downward spiral of deskilling, declining wages, deunionization, outsourcing, and job insecurity, Virginia Doellgast examines a workplace that exemplifies these trends, the call center. Her intensive study of matched pairs of call centers in Germany and the U.S., based on observation, archival documents, and some 300 interviews, shows that the situation is bleak, but not quite as bleak as the title, Disintegrating Democracy at Work, might suggest. She concludes by sketching a way forward, toward a utopian world in which call-center workers are self-managed, highly skilled members of strong unions who enjoy job security and high wages. That system can be self-reinforcing, for it saves training and turnover costs, and by ensuring high-quality service, offers firms competitive advantages. The system can still be found in some German and U.S. telecom call centers.
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