Through a Glass Darkly: Building the New Workplace for the 21st Century (NPA report)

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9780890681442: Through a Glass Darkly: Building the New Workplace for the 21st Century (NPA report)

The U.S. workplace, workforce, and labor-management relations have undergone profound transformations during the past two decades. As the world has become more competitive, the pressures on U.S. firms to improve productivity have increased. The use of new technology, the impact of trade agreements, the growing education and skill requirements for employees, and the changing demographics of the labor force have all contributed to the fact that traditional workplace practices and adversarial labor-management relations are increasingly less effective in meeting the needs of employees, employers, and society.

Through a Glass Darkly: Building the New Workplace for the 21st Century presents a collection of important NPA works that explore some of the changes transforming the workplace as well as the labor-management models successfully meeting the challenges of maintaining U.S. competitiveness. The 25 authors -- noted scholars and key business, labor, and government leaders -- also examine the obstacles to implementing many of these innovations. This in-depth anthology of the changing workplace is presented in five Parts.

"Historical and Current Perspectives, " an overview of the history of labor-management relations from 1945 to the present, describes the failure of the traditional model to adapt to significant workplace changes and competitive challenges beginning in the 1970s. It also discusses the barriers facing the movement toward the new models that are based on cooperation rather than confrontation.

"Workforce Transformations" examines the restructuring of the workplace, including the wave of corporate downsizing that has been sweeping through America and its impact on employment security. In "Education and Training of the Workforce, " the authors discuss the need for a more flexible labor force in which the skills, knowledge, and abilities of all workers are maximized.

The authors in "Trade and the Workplace" examine the impact of free trade agreements on workers and the workplace. They believe that increased attention should be given to workers negatively impacted by free trade, and they see a need for new labor market adjustment policies that minimize the negative aspects of trade agreements. The final section, "What Lies Ahead?", looks at the implications of the new workplace for business, labor, government, and society. It remains an open question whether the high performance models are the components of a new, stable system that will benefit each stakeholder in the workplace. The anthology concludes with a call for a positive working relationship between management and labor that would advance U.S. competitive leadership, respect the dignity of individual workers, and maintain an adequate standard of living for all Americans.

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J. S. Auerbach
Published by Natl Planning Assn (1998)
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J. S. Auerbach
Published by Natl Planning Assn (1998)
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