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Title: Organisational restructuring, job insecurities and work intensification in the Thames Valley high-tech cluster
Author: Parkin, Kye
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 4478
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2019
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Work intensification first began to attract academic attention in the 1980s due to a widespread impression - evident from popular reports and casual empiricism - of an increasing tension and strain in the workplace. In definitional terms, the notion is used by scholars to describe an uplift in work effort in terms of number of hours worked, levels of discretionary work effort or both. Work intensification tends to be viewed as having a negative impact on society, given that it has been linked to a variety of personal and social issues, including poor mental health and wellbeing for example. Scholars have identified five common features of contemporary working life that are linked to work intensification: high-commitment work systems, organisational restructuring, job insecurities, new technologies and managerialisation. Empirical explorations of these factors typically take the form of large-scale surveys that record work effort changes across the population or organisational case studies. Given that these two research streams are macro and micro-level units of analysis respectively, scant attention has been paid to exploring work intensification at the meso-level of social activity. Against this background, the thesis introduces geographic clusters as a valuable, but overlooked, meso-level concept for exploring work intensification. Assuming that the employment relationship represents an incomplete contract, the thesis develops the theory that firms in clusters have the upper hand as regards the work effort-mobility bargain with employees, thereby dampening resistance to work intensification. Based on 46 semi-structured interviews with employees drawn from 16 high-tech firms in the Thames Valley cluster, the thesis describes how repeated restructuring, redundancies and outsourcing have led to a fearful work situation, whereby employees feel powerless to resist excessive working hours and demands. In view of these findings, the theory that clusters play a central role in structuring the conditions of work and employment locally is re-evaluated and advanced in the concluding chapters of the thesis.
Supervisor: Tomlinson, Philip ; Gabriel, Yiannis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available