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by Ariel C. Avgar, Julie Sadler, Paul Clark and Wonjoon Chung

To what extent can labor-management partnership in the healthcare setting enhance frontline employee voice when it come to the care they provide patients? Evidence supporting the relationship between collaborative labor-management relations and patient care voice would contribute to both scholars and practitioners grappling with the ways in which healthcare organizations can improve a host of important and central outcomes.

In a recent article published in Industrial Relations we attempt to better understand the link between partnership and frontline patient care related voice. Specifically, we argue that partnership is most likely to improve frontline patient care voice in units where the process of implementing this labor-management innovation has been supported by egalitarian and inclusive processes.

We find that where frontline employees report partnership processes that allowed for union and management involvement, mutual respect, information sharing and consensus building, they were also more likely to report greater levels of patient care voice. We also find that the relationship between high quality partnership processes and frontline employee voice is mediated by their trust in management. These finding are important given the current state of healthcare in the United States and in many other countries.

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by Terence E. McDonnell

For many Americans, safety pins have suddenly appeared everywhere: Pinned to shirts, posted to Facebook, or worn by celebrities. When I started wearing one a handful of strangers asked “what the heck are these safety pins all about?” This is the challenge of new symbols. Before they can work people need to know what they mean.

Americans had similar questions in 1991 when celebrities attending the Tony Awards donned red ribbons on their lapels and gowns. In a new paper at Poetics (coauthored with Amy Jonason and Kari Christoffersen) that traces the different trajectories of red AIDS ribbons and pink breast cancer ribbons, we argue that new symbols must be both retrievable (visible and available in the public sphere) and recognizable (people share an understanding of its basic meaning) to have the intended effects. While red ribbons might be publicly available, they can’t effectively raise awareness if they don’t denote “AIDS.”

New symbols often borrow from pre-existing cultural symbols in order to harness their cultural power. The single-looped awareness ribbon is now iconic, but its first instantiation in the red AIDS ribbon intentionally borrowed the ribbon idea from the contemporaneous public practice of using yellow ribbons to denote support for troops in the first Gulf War.

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by Beth Humberd and Bess Rouse

Mentoring is considered essential to career development.  Yet, study after study shows that not all mentoring relationships are effective: often the protégé does not reap the intended benefits of such relationships; and in many cases, mentors do not feel invested in or connected to the relationship.

On the other hand, there are certainly instances where high-quality mentoring relationships arise; in these relationships, both the protégé and the mentor experience growth and development in personal, professional, and career domains. What, then, can account for these variations in the quality of a mentoring relationship over time?

In our recently published conceptual paper, we theorize how personal identification – the process by which individuals realize cognitive overlap between the self and other over time in a relationship –may be key to fostering higher quality mentoring relationships.

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by Frederik Thuesen

Words matter crucially to the formation of social relations, particularly in ethnically diverse low-skill workplaces, where native-born workers encounter ethnic minority immigrant workers who may not be fluent in the host country language. Since many of these immigrant workers gain a foothold in the labor market in low-skill workplaces, linguistic barriers in these workplaces often have a profound impact on social relations.

Not surprisingly, many western workplaces—especially low-skill ones—are increasingly becoming ethnically and linguistically diverse from both immigration and the arrival of asylum-seekers from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

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1200px-siliconrus-hqby Jennifer Glass

Much has been written recently about the growing earnings premium for workers willing to work long hours, creating a new dimension on which (mostly male) professionals without care responsibilities can distinguish themselves and hoard positions of power and authority within organizations. These findings should be of serious concern to scholars of inequality, as well as those studying new forms of work organization or the persistence of gender stratification in the workplace.

One primary way for groups to hoard resources, of course, is to “move the goalposts” as disadvantaged groups gain leverage in high wage sectors of the economy. The history of racial exclusion is full of such attempts to increase qualifications or transform them so that racial preferences can be kept intact. Long work hours serve the same purpose in excluding workers with family responsibilities and their associated costs (lower availability, greater need for flexibility, etc.) from positions of power and authority.

But recently, my colleague Mary Noonan and I examined the issue in a different way by looking longitudinally within the careers of individuals who are salaried workers to find the premium for overtime work.

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by Ellis P. Monk, Jr.

This seemingly simple, yet deceptively complex question is at the heart of burgeoning research on the ‘multidimensionality’ of race.  This research attempts to answer this opening question by considering a range of different measures of “race” as a concept – but what are these different dimensions?  And what dimensions seem to matter most when we measure social inequality?

In the United States, for example, many people associate race with ancestry.  This makes sense given the historical legacies of antiquated, purportedly “scientific” theories of race and the persistence of the ‘one-drop rule.’  Following this rule, individuals with ‘any known trace’ of African ancestry are to be classified as black.  Over the course of a few centuries this rule eventually was embraced by whites and non-whites alike resulting in the common folk notion of race that has been dominant in the U.S. for decades.

While it is clear that the population of ‘mixed-race’ individuals has grown tremendously in the United States, recent estimates show that less than 3% of the U.S. population identifies as ‘one or more race.’  Just think of President Barack Obama, whose “mixed” ancestry is well-known, but openly identifies as ‘black’ and, notably, does so on the U.S. census too.

The fact remains that most individuals with African ancestry simply view themselves as black and are viewed by the majority of the people they encounter in their daily lives simply as black.

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by Janette Dill

The shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy – sometimes referred to as The New Economy – has been very difficult for low- and middle-skill men, or men without a four-year college degree. Their wages have stagnated or declined, and job availability in many traditional male-dominated occupations, such as manufacturing and production, has decreased. Given this context, there is some evidence that more men are moving into care work occupations, or work that contributes to the physical, mental, social, and/or emotional well-being of others and whose primary labor process involves face-to-face relationships with those for whom they care. But how do low- and middle-skill men fare when they enter care work occupations?

It is well documented that occupations that involve paid care work such as child and health care, are valued less; care workers earn lower wages compared to other workers when we take into account other work-related factors, such as education and work experience.

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