ILR Book Reviews

Permanent URI for this collection

The centrality of the workplace in an increasingly complex world is the primary focus at ILR. With its diverse and distinguished faculty, the school leads the way towards new insights about current and future challenges. Faculty expertise ranges across the workplace-related social science disciplines, including economics, sociology, history, psychology, political science, law, and statistical analysis. Cutting-edge research, excellence in teaching, and commitment to outreach remain ILR's defining characteristics.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 97
  • Item
    Review of the book [The marketing of higher education: The price of the university's soul]
    Lieberwitz, Risa L. (Cornell University, 2004)
    [Excerpt] These commercialization trends have been the focus of recent scholarly commentary from such fields as history, sociology, education, and law. Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University and former Dean of Harvard Law School, joins the debate in his book Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education, inquiring "why this [commercialization] trend has developed, what dangers it poses for universities, and how academic leaders can act to limit the risk to their institutions." Bok defines commercialization as "efforts within the university to make a profit from teaching, research, and other campus activities.' He begins his study of commercialization trends with the oldest of commercialized university activities athletics-and then expands the discussion to include more recent commercial activities that involve research and teaching.
  • Item
    Book Review: L’organisation international du travail et le BIT
    Compa, Lance (University of Illinois College of Law, 2022)
    [Excerpt] The re-issuance of Georges Scelle’s seminal L’organisation international du travail et le BIT (The International Labor Organization and the International Labor Office) nearly a century after its initial publication provides a new and timely look at early work on the challenge of creating global labor standards.
  • Item
    Book Review: Concessions - and how to beat them
    Metzgar, Jack (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] As the title of her book indicates, Jane Slaughter is not afraid to be didactic. This valuable handbook, written for secondary leaders and rank-and-file activists, not only provides a history and sum-up of the concessions experience through the Spring of 1983. It articulates a set of principles and strategies for "how to beat them."
  • Item
    Book Review: Steelworkers Rank and File
    Hirsch, Mike (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Phil Nyden has established a reputation as a scholar with a deep personal commitment to the prospects of a genuine, grass-roots-based militant unionism. With a sensitivity too rare among outside observers, Nyden tries to draw lessons based on the actual experiences of the rank-and-file, in terms of how they understand their situation and the strategies they develop. While this book is not without its problems, it represents must reading for union activists as well as labor educators, researchers and friends of the labor movement.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Wage Indexation in the United States: Cola or Uncola?'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1986-01-01)
    [Excerpt] Hendricks and Kahn's book is a major contribution to the literature on wage indexation. The authors, together with a team of graduate assistants, have painstakingly put together a data file from Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of National Affairs sources that covers over 10,000 individual contract negotiations during the 1967-82 period. A major portion of their book is devoted to econometric analyses of these data; specifically, analyses of the determinants of COLA incidence, the determinants of COLA strength, the effect of COLAs on wage inflation, and the effect of COLAs on strike activity. Earlier versions of some of these analyses have appeared in previous publications by the authors, but there is enough new material here to hold the interest of even the well-read reader.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Unemployment Insurance: The Second Half-Century'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1991-04-01)
    [Excerpt] This extraordinary volume is one that all people interested in the unemployment insurance (Ul) system will want to read. Although research on a wide variety of aspects of the Ul system has been published in many articles and monographs in recent years, this volume represents an attempt to summarize what is known about many aspects of the subject in one place, to provide some new findings, and to speculate about future research and policy directions. The thirteen included papers, written by a mix of scholars and practitioners, are revisions of a set of papers that were originally presented at a 1986 conference.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'The Economic Analysis of Unions: New Approaches and Evidence'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1987-01-01)
    [Excerpt] This book surveys, synthesizes, and critically analyzes the rapidly growing theoretical and empirical literature on unions and dispute resolution. The focus is primarily on the United States literature, although references to studies from Canada and the United Kingdom are also included. That the survey is complete and up-to-date is suggested by the thirty pages of references at the end of the book; a number of these are to papers that are still awaiting publication. The authors present a remarkably balanced treatment and, for the most part, do not allow their own ideological orientation toward unions to influence their analyses.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'The Davis-Bacon Act'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1976-07-01)
    [Excerpt] Armand J. Thieblot's monograph is not the first study of the administration and impact of the Davis-Bacon Act; however, it certainly is the most comprehensive. Successive chapters of the book consider the history of the act, definitions and interpretations of key words in the legislation, its current administrative organization and enforcement, experience under it (including improper wage determinations), and its costs and inflationary impact. A set of case studies are then presented to document the existence of improper and excessive wage determinations. Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of the original rationale of the Davis-Bacon Act and its current-day relevance, a survey of contractors reporting their views of the act, and a set of conclusions and recommendations.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'The Cost of Talent: How Executives and Professionals are Paid and How it Affects America'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1995-03-01)
    [Excerpt] Why should the former President of Harvard University be concerned that during the 1970s and 1980s the earnings of doctors, lawyers in private practice, and top corporate executives grew substantially relative to the earnings of professors, teachers, and high level federal civil servants? Why should he care that physicians with specialized hospital-based practices, such as neurosurgeons, have seen their earnings rise substantially relative to physicians practicing family medicine during the same period? In each case, the answer is that Bok believes that occupational choices are determined, at least at the margin, by the pecuniary and nonpecuniary benefits that the various professions offer. Thus, he fears that the growing earnings differentials have diverted America's "best and brightest" away from occupations that he considers vitally important for our society, the professoriate, teaching, the federal civil service, and primary care medicine. Given this belief, his goal is to put forth a menu of reforms that might induce an increased supply of talented individuals to these occupations.
  • Item
    Review of the book 'The Chinese Worker After Socialism'
    Friedman, Eli D. (2010-09-01)
    In The Chinese Worker after Socialism, William Hurst employs subnational comparison to explain different outcomes for workers in the process of reform of state-owned industry in China. In particular, Hurst provides in-depth analysis of regional variation of the sequencing and volume of layoffs, how the local state attempted to handle unemployment, actual outcomes in re-employment, and the dynamics of worker protest. By taking subnational regions as the unit of analysis, we see that the process of "smashing the iron rice bowl" has not been a unified and coherent project but rather one that has been messy, uneven, and subject to great variation in timing and outcomes. This variation is explained by differences in the political economy of each region.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (2004-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Befitting a former journalist, Kirp's book is extraordinarily well-written; once one picks it up it is hard to put down. Some economists may be put off by a book that contains no equations, tables, figures or regression results. Such an attitude, however, would be misguided and any academic economist interested in better understanding how market forces are reshaping higher education should read Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Prospects for Faculty in the Arts and Sciences'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1990-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Very few books by economists are announced to the world in a front page story in the New York Times. However, Prospects for Faculty in the Arts and Sciences by William G. Bowen and Julie Ann Sosa was (see Fiske) and this honor is well deserved. Prospects may well be the most important analysis of the academic labor market to appear since Alan Cartter's pioneering work in the mid-1970s.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Nonmonetary Eligibility in State Unemployment Insurance Programs: Law and Practice'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1987-07-01)
    [Excerpt] This monograph focuses on a relatively under-researched topic, namely, the effects of nonmonetary eligibility rules for both initial receipt of benefits and continued receipt once benefits are granted on the rates at which UI benefits are denied to applicants. The authors very competently employ both econometric and case study research methods to address these issues. Their econometric work utilizes quarterly state-level data between 1964 and 1981 and a fixed-effects framework to isolate those parameters of state unemployment insurance laws that influence denial rates. To supplement these analyses, they conduct interviews with key state and local program officials in six states; these interviews yield them a better understanding of the administrative policies agencies follow (given the statutory rules) that lead to high denial rates.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Minimum Wage Regulation in the United States'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1984-10-01)
    [Excerpt] Why yet another book on minimum wages in the United States, especially one that follows so closely on the heels of the 1981 Report of the Minimum Wage Study Commission and parallel studies (including another one by Fleisher) sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute? The author's goal here is to evaluate minimum-wage regulation in light of its benefits and costs as an antipoverty device; and most of his book is based on his interpretation and evaluation of the existing literature, including the large body of recent research. The book is written in a nontechnical fashion for nonspecialists (frustrated econometricians will search in vain for an equation or even a Greek symbol), and the author succeeds quite well in keeping the writing lively and in presenting a well-reasoned argument. One would have expected no less from the co-author of a well-written textbook in labor economics.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Labor Relations and the Litigation Explosion'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1988-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Labor Relations and the Litigation Explosion is a very readable book that is easily accessible to nonspecialists. (The author has presented more technical treatments of the material elsewhere; see Flanagan 1986a, 1986b.) The early chapters begin with a discussion of federal policy towards labor relations in the United States under the National Labor Relations Act, a documentation of the growth of unfair labor practice charges that occurred over the 1950-1980 period and then a demonstration that this growth can be only partially "explained" by the changing industrial and regional distribution of employment in the United States. Quite interestingly, he presents comparative data from Canada, which has a regulatory system for labor relations similar to the NLRA, and shows that similar growth occurred there. Chapter 4 then critically surveys the extensive prior literature that purports to show how unfair labor practice charges have influenced union growth in the United States; Flanagan's conclusion here, buttressed by some empirical work of his own, is that changes in labor law policy are unlikely to have a broad influence on the degree of union representation in the economy.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Incentives, Cooperation and Risk Sharing: Economic and Psychological Perspectives on Employment Contracts'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1989-04-01)
    [Excerpt] The current volume, which grew out of a two-day conference held at New York University in 1984, is an excellent introduction to compensation policy research and practice. A unique aspect of the volume is its interdisciplinary orientation; the contributors include academic economists and industrial psychologists, as well as practicing compensation and personnel and human resource specialists. A very readable introductory essay by the editor provides general discussion of analytical issues in compensation policy research and whets the reader's appetite for the papers that follow.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'In Pursuit of the Ph.D.'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1993-06-01)
    [Excerpt] When William Bowen, the President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (formerly the President of Princeton University), and Neil Rudenstine, the President of Harvard University (formerly Executive Vice President of Mellon), combine to write a book on doctoral study in the arts and sciences, the academic profession must take notice. And well it should. Building on Bowen and Julie Ann Sosa's (1989) predictions of forthcoming shortages of Ph.D.'s in the arts and sciences, In Pursuit of the Ph.D. provides a detailed analysis of the propensity of American college graduates to enter doctoral programs in the arts and sciences and of doctoral students' completion rates and times-to-degree. Bowen and Rudenstine also carefully analyze the role that labor market characteristics, financial support patterns, institutional characteristics, and graduate program policies play in influencing these outcomes. Finally, they both implicitly and explicitly lay out an agenda for future research. In Pursuit is thus a "must read" for faculty and administrators involved in graduate education and for economists interested in higher education and academic labor supply issues.
  • Item
    Review of the book 'Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media'
    Alvarez, Sally (2006-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Observers of the U.S. media have grown accustomed to the perennial debate over whether the news leans left or right. Yet there is scant disagreement that discussion of ordinary work issues is absent in public discourse; that workers and their unions are practically invisible even in economic news; and that most news coverage about unions concerns strikes, corrupt leaders, or, more recently, splits in labor’s ranks. Christopher Martin’s highly readable book, Framed: Labor and the Corporate Media, deepens that observation through the application of media framing theory, originally developed by political media scholar Doris Graber in the 1970s. Quoting Todd Gitlin, Martin defines media frames as “persistent patterns of cognition, interpretation and presentation, of selection, emphasis and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize discourse, whether verbal or visual.” Embattled union members encounter framing when every airline walkout becomes a media narrative of stranded travelers versus callous strikers, and every press story employment focuses on stock statistics.
  • Item
    Review of the Book 'Essays in Labor Market Analysis'
    Ehrenberg, Ronald G. (1979-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Yochan Peter Comay was an Israeli economist who received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1969. His career was tragically cut short in October 1973 when he was killed during the Yom Kippur War. Comay's research focused on bargaining models, investment in human capital, and analyses of migration. To honor him, Orley Ashenfelter and Wallace Oates have gathered together a collection of eleven essays written by his former colleagues and friends in both the United States and Israel, which faithfully reflect these interests. Included are two essays on aspects of bargaining theory, four relating to job satisfaction, work effort and job search, three on income distribution, and two that provide frameworks for evaluating specific labor market programs. While all of the papers in this volume will be of at least passing interest to academic labor economists, their quality is unfortunately uneven. Some are substantive pieces on important issues and could clearly have found their way into leading academic journals, had the authors chosen to follow that route. Others are more preliminary in nature and would have profited from being refined and extended before being published. Fortunately, the majority fall in the first category.
  • Item
    Review of the book 'Building Movement Bridges: The Coalition of Labor Union Women'
    Alvarez, Sally (2004-07-01)
    [Excerpt] When de Tocqueville made that famous remark, he could not have foreseen the role this “mother of all forms of knowledge” would play in the twentieth century. America cannot be understood without understanding her social movements. Silke Roth’s new book, Building Movement Bridges: The Coalition of Labor Union Women, focuses on an association described as a bridge between two of America’s most important social movements: labor and the women’s movement.