Why has Work Effort become more intense?

This paper investigates possible explanations for work intensification, using four British data sets. The paper proposes that an important source of work intensification is effort-biased technical change (EBTC), which enhances the productivity of high effort workers relative to that of low effort workers. EBTC can be traced to innovations such as Total Quality Management and to information technology, and is linked with multi-skilling. Green argues that EBTC is complementary with skill-biased technological change. His evidence finds that additional sources of intensification are the increasing use of intra-firm communication policies, and the declining power of unions. However, evidence also shows that neither increased team working nor, contrary to popular expectations, changing job insecurity has raised average effort levels.

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Abigail Gilbert



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