Employment futures: Reorganization, dislocation, and public policy

Employment futures: Reorganization, dislocation, and public policy

moralistic and tend to view personal relationships in terms of dominance and submission. They are often deferential to superiors and autocratic in the...

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moralistic and tend to view personal relationships in terms of dominance and submission. They are often deferential to superiors and autocratic in their dealings with subordinates. They tend to be viewed as industrious and efficient by others; however, their lack of flexibility and spontaneity keep them from being truly effective. The passive-aggressive disposition produces negativism, defiance, and provocation. These people tend to be indecisive, irritable, and unaccommodating. They often feel misunderstood and cheated. They possess a cognitive and emotional inability to clearly assess what is expected of them. These leaders tend to fail because of their self-destructive patterns of expression. Noncompetitive, ingratiating, and ever-agreeable are terms often used to describe the dependent disposition. They tend to see themselves as powerless and prefer to play an inferior role. They generally possess poor selfeslEeem and search for social approval and support. Feeling an inability to assert themselves, they prefer a passive lifestyle and allow others to make decisions for them. They have an external locus of control and find it difficult to function independently. Lastly, the masochistic disposition is an orientation in which low selfconfidence and self-devaluation are at their greatest. Masochistic leaders go out of their way to encourage others to take advantage of them. They tend to make themselves unlovable and take a certain pleasure in having others devalue them. In addition, they tend to feet that they are never able to live up to the expectations of others. Kets de Vries does not propose a simplistic typology of dysfunctional leadership in which certain styles can be identified and diagnosed. Rather, he is proposing that dispositions play a part in the failure as well as the success of leaders. Certain dispositions can. in fact be helpful in creating effective leadership. One must also remember that most people are not pure types, whether functional or dysfunctional. We tend to be hybrids, made up of a mixture of dispositions. Kets de Vries uses a quote from Ernst Kretschmer that seems appropriate to end this review: "It is a funny thing with psychopaths. In normal Focus on Books

times we render expert opinion on them, in times of political unrest they rule us." Prisoners of Leadership gives us another perspective in which to view leadership. It challenges the traditional focus on the leader and instead asks us to view the leadership process as a series of rather complex psychological forces interacting between the leader and followers. It is a very interesting approach to analyzing leadership and certainly one that deserves attention.

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, P r i s o n e r s o f Leadership, New York:John Wiley and Sons, I989. 246pp. $19.95.

Employment Futures: Reorganization, Dislocation, and Public Policy by Paul Osterman

The reviewer, Alfred Diamant, is a professor of political science and West European studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. This work will not attract a wide readership. It should, however, for it deals with one of the more intractable problems of the U.S. political economy. Moreover, Osterman examines crucial issues of the American educational system by stressing links among that system, its outputs, and the labor market. He does so in good part by a careful comparative study of labormarket functioning in Sweden and the Federal Republic of Germany. The reason this book will not get the readership it deserves is twofold. It is a book for specialists, so that even social scientists fluent in other branches of these disciplines, such as this reviewer, find the going tough. Readability is further reduced by an uncompromisingly tight focus on the issues, with little effort to lighten the nonspecialist reader's task. At the same time, the author works hard at summarizing preceding arguments and

taking the reader over terrain that had previously been covered in the book. These might seem to be contradictory complaints, but they are not; the summarizing of earlier arguments is just as difficult to manage as their original presentation. Yet, for the determined reader, the results are worth the effort, and anyone with serious concern for the continued well-being of the American political economy needs to tackle this book. It deals with central social concerns of the political economy: the human participants, especially those who seem to be getting the "short end of the stick." Osterman's book should be required reading for all the Pollyannas w h o consider such problems of minor significance in this seventh year of our "unprecedented peacetime bull market." One of the principal virtues of this study is that it seeks to link labor markets and public policy. This linkage might seem obvious and well established in just about all West European industrialized countries (or, more broadly, in all OECD member countries). But it is far from obvious and unproblematic in the U.S. In other industrialized countries, such as the two examined closely in this book (Sweden and the Federal Republic), public policy encompasses virtually every aspect of labor markets. In the U.S., however, public policy has been limited to addressing problems of marginal workers, and only in a haphazard and unsatisfactory manner. For Osterman the labor market-public policy linkage is a central concern. He draws very effectively on the Swedish and West German experience to fashion proposals that would advance U.S. public policy beyond its past and present marginal position concerning the shaping of labor markets, both within' firms and in the broader economy. At the outset Osterman articulates four themes: the dislocation of laid-off workers; the reorganization of work within firms; the persistent problems of low earnings and poverty; and the possibilities of an expanded and aggressive public policy to deal with these problems. These themes are developed in a series of chapters beginning, after an introduction, with the 85

author's treatment of the general dimensions of labor market problems (Chapter 2). He seeks to explain w h y the labor market fares so poorly in finding comparable work for experienced employees (Chapter 3). The model developed in that chapter specifies an interaction between internal labor markets and the supply side of that market. For nonspecialists, it should be pointed out that the term "internal labor market" refers to conditions within firms. Chapters 2 and 3 rest on an analysis of individual data; Chapter 4 turns to a consideration of internal labor markets in the aggregate. Here we are presented with a careful examination of the changes internal labor markets are just n o w undergoing, triggered by technological advances and productmarket developments. It is these developments that have given rise to the more dramatic features of labor market change: increasing reliance on casual part-timers surrounding a diminishing core of permanent skilled operatives, as well as the radical shifts in these internal labor markets brought about by the swiftness of change in product markets. All of these factors contribute to increasing uncertainty facing employees across


the entire economy. Chapter 5 turns our attention from labor markets to public policy. The author reaches, not surprisingly, pessimistic conclusions about current policy and offers little optimism regarding the chances for transformation. The last two chapters, 6 and 7, provide a well-informed and illuminating examination of labor markets and public policies in Sweden and the Federal Republic. The author is careful to stress that he does not advocate a transfer of German or Swedish practices to the United States. But he insists nevertheless that in a variety of ways these practices, though at face value unacceptable to Americans, lead to results that the U.S. would want to achieve. For example, he points out that "in both countries the employment and training system is integrated into the private economy. In particular, it helps support an internal labor market structure much like the one toward which many American firms would wish to move" (p. 109). In the concluding chapter the author draws on these comparative observations to suggest his own recommendations for a coherent labor market public policy. He finds that there are three trends already working in that direction. First,

some firms are already attempting to expand and strengthen employment security. Second, in union-management negotiations, employment security has b e c o m e a - - i f not the--central issue. Third, growing public policy efforts are clearly discernible, having b e c o m e so even under the auspices of the Reagan administration. Although the author thinks that each of these three thrusts is flawed in some way, each represents a move in the direction he has advocated. But only a comprehensive set of public policies for the labor market will bear the sort of fruit the author considers most desirable. Labor market policy, like all public policy, "must be grounded in an understanding of the institutional environment in which it must operate" (p. 165). Osterman has done all this exceedingly well. One comes away from his work informed and refreshed, if not fired with excessive optimism about the chances for the success of the prescription that has been presented.

Paul Osterman, Employment Futures: Reorganization, Dislocation, and Public Policy, New York.. Oxford University Press. 1988. 204pp. $24.9_5.

Business Horizons / March-April 1990