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The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market Hardcover – May 2, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"In their brilliant new book The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane write that the future belongs to people who excel at expert thinking (solving problems for which there are no rules-based solutions) and complex communication (interacting with people to acquire information, understand what that information means and persuade others of its implications for action).", ComputerWorld
"[A] fascinating book. Not since the mathematical economist Truman Bewley interviewed 300 business executives and labor leaders for Why Wages Don't Fall during a Recession have sophisticated economists waded so deeply into the real-world circumstances of the important problem they are seeking to understand."---David Warsh, economicprincipals.com
"Remember that barely one-third of New York City's eighth-graders can read and do basic math. Then, read this book."---Nicole Gelinas, New York Post
"Behind all the angst about computers and outsourcing destroying American livelihoods lies a story about economic change and its effect on workers. With welcome clarity, brevity, and insight, Levy and Murnane tell us how to make sense of the time in which we live."---David Wessel, "Capital" columnist, Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating, important book. Levy and Murnane tackle one of the most important questions in contemporary economics, how computers change the way work is organized and how labor markets reward skill. The answer they offer is simple and powerful."―James B. Rebitzer, Case Western Reserve University
"A timely contribution. The New Division of Labor adds an important level of understanding to the changes we are witnessing in our labor markets. There is a message regarding the skills that are required by our economy and implications for educational reform and a message as to the political tensions that accompany this transition. The phenomenon described is of global relevance."―-John Reed, Interim Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange
"A concise and easily accessible exploration of how the computer has shifted the demands for certain types of skills. Unlike the sky-is-falling commentators of the left and the technology-will-solve-all-problems cheerleaders of the right, Levy and Murnane use history, anecdotes and statistical analysis to delineate how technology will change the nature of work.", Washington Post
"Levy and Murnane go beyond conventional accounts of the effect of automation on the workforce to take a comprehensive and thoughtful look at how increased use of technology is affecting the occupational distribution in the U.S., and precisely what skills are likely to be valued in tomorrow's labor markets. This should be read by all who care about the future of work in America."―Lawrence H. Summers, President, Harvard University
"Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane have written a very readable introduction to some key issues facing US workers in an increasingly informational economy. . . . [R]eaders exploring these ideas for the first time will find this an engaging and provocative introduction to an important set of political-economic processes that continue to bring information technology and human labor together, for better or for worse."---Greg Downey, International Review of Social History
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0691119724
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691119724
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.75 x 9.5 inches
- Publisher : Princeton University Press (May 2, 2004)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,992,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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My thought of this book is driven by more of a concern of something I see everyday, which is the failure of a lot of businesses to capitalize on new technology. In retail, a brief visit to an Apple store before visiting a more typical retail outlet suggests that Apple is ahead of the competition who trail significantly, but also that Apple itself, does not use it's own technology in a radical way.
This book is serious and interesting and approaches it's concerns in a way which suggests that resources are being squandered and that our society is not making as much out of this dramatic rise in technology that it could be. The key thing that is not considered by the book is that people who can dream and think the unthinkable are crucial to leverage the potential of technological developments. Think of Facebook for example. There are people who could see at once that Facebook has advantages in the spread of consumer knowledge about products. In the youth market the sharing of information about bands and other media through Facebook could have been used in a direct fashion to promote the things that people liked. instead, years later, the now huge Facebook institution is gingerly putting its toes into the retail market through enabling people to buy things.
Similarly the book implies that alienation for those who cannot get to grips with technology because they lack basic skills of literacy, numeracy and communications, will be divorced from the new knowledge based economy and be cast aside with all of the attendant problems they will face into the distant future.
One thing which I think upon reflection should have been included is the fact that people are not just workers or consumers is that they are people and while the technology exists for people to do well in their chosen employments or causes, the technology itself cannot replace people. Video conferencing and Skype can assist in meetings across thousands of miles and numerous timezones, but ultimately there are situations where a physical presence is a necessity.
Technology has brought about massive changes in the workforce but there are a lot of small and medium enterprises which carry on as they have done for years with only minor changes courtesy of technology.
I suppose that what I am trying to articulate is the gap between technology and it's uses. It may have been obvious that telephones and computers could converge into mobile devices but I am convinced that there are untapped opportunities waiting to be discovered by people with imagination and ideas and there really does not seem to be any way to teach those things except by encouraging enterprise and initiative, taking risks and finding out how those risks can be financed and supported.
By the way I found this book to be a surprising source of ideas, not dry and academic at all.
The authors extensive research dispels thoroughly the notion that computerization is bad for employment. To the contrary, computerization has increased both the quantity and quality of jobs.
The authors studied in detail labor trends over the past 40 years to support their conclusion. They uncovered the prescient work of Herbert Simon, who wrote an essay in the 1960s on the change in labor mix with the advent of technologies. The authors documented that for the most part Simon was correct. Due to computerization, the labor mix was going to change materially over the next several decades tilted towards a greater concentration of jobs associated with greater complexity in terms of critical thinking and judgment.
Just as Simon predicted, there is today a far greater percentage of the population involved in complex jobs associated with an intense critical thinking component. Such jobs include managers, professionals, technicians, and many sales related activities. By the same token, there is a far smaller percentage of the population engaged in blue collar routine work.
As mentioned, just as the quality of jobs (greater complexity) has improved immensely during the past several decades, so as the quantity. Between 1969 and 2000, the labor force grew by a staggering 63% from 83 million to 135 million. And, this surge in labor occurred during the most intense computerization era.
If we just observe the change in our own working lives, we can confirm that our job functions have changed dramatically for the better. We all use computers with increasingly powerful hardware that can handle increasingly complex software. In turn, the software replaces many of the routine components of our jobs. It also gives us quick access to a math level which would have been accessible only to PhDs not long ago. I don't think any of us would readily turn the clock back on computerization regarding our specific jobs. The authors will convince you the same is true at the macroeconomic level.