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2012/2013  KAN-CM_B135  Managing Human Resources in Flexible Organizations and Labor Markets

English Title
Managing Human Resources in Flexible Organizations and Labor Markets

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn, Spring
Changes in course schedule may occur
Thursday 13.30-16.05, week 6-12, 14-16
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Secretary : Ane Lindgren Hassing alh.ioa@cbs.dk... Course Coordinator : Peter Kjær pk.ioa@cbs.dk
    Christopher John Mathieu - Department of Organization
Main Category of the Course
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Management
  • Experience economy and service management
  • Organization
  • Economic and organizational sociology
Last updated on 16-10-2012
Learning objectives
The student will acquire both general knowledge and insight into issues concering managing and human resource manageemnt in flexible organizations, work forms and labor markets as well as specialist knowledge in one or more organizational form or industry. The exam for the course will focus on this combination of general insight and deep specialist knowledge. More specific goals are:
  • Understand what the apparent causes of increased use of flexible staffing arrangements are and what moderates this trend.
  • Understand the concept of ‘flexibility’ and the array of ways it is manifested in organizational and labor market contexts.
  • Understand the positive and negative aspects of using flexible staffing arrangements, and under what conditions it is advisable or ill-advised.
  • Understand what effects on organizations, individuals, and broader systems the use of flexible staffing arrangements cause.
  • Understand and be able to create specific strategies for managing under conditions of flexible staffing.
No prerequesites
Oral exam based on summary:
Type of test Oral with Written Assignment
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner No second examiner
Exam period December/January and May/June
Aids Please, see the detailed regulations below
Duration Please, see the detailed regulations below

Course content
This course focuses on the challenges, benefits, and dilemmas of using various forms of flexible staffing arrangements. Flexible contract or associational forms are frequently found in project organization, freelance work, and ‘talent on demand’ systems, as well as organizations that use consultants and temporary or part-time workers or external labor markets to high degrees, and the practitioner of so-called ‘boundaryless’ or ‘portfolio’ careers. These arrangements usually entail specific organizational, managerial and individual challenges, benefits and dilemmas. These challenges, benefits and dilemmas are examined from four perspectives. First we look at where, when, and why (i.e. in what sectors/industries, types of organizations, levels in organizations, labor market or welfare regimes, types of occupations) flexible staffing predominates, is increasing, or possibly decreasing, in terms of both broader economic and employment system. Second we look at the strategic rationales behind flexible staffing from various perspectives – economic, cultural, creativity, innovation, skills and training, etc. and the concrete forms of flexibilities practiced in organizations. Thirdly we look at flexible staffing from employee perspectives in terms of current job, worklife, and career dimensions. The final perspective looks at what implications the previous three perspectives have on concrete, practical HR and management activities in various types of organizations and industries.
While looking at central issues pertaining to human resource management, such as identifying organizational needs for specific skills, knowledge and abilities (i.e. human resources) and where to find these internally or externally; recruitment processes; skill development and training; career planning; etc. this is not a typical HRM course as much of the focus is on industries and organizations that either do not have HRM departments or where the most significant ‘HR’ considerations or decisions are made outside of HRM departments, such as on film or TV projects, in start-up companies, network organizations, voluntary organizations , etc. Thus, the course will be of value to both persons who intend to work with flexibility issues within HRM departments as well as persons who anticipate doing a great deal of the ‘HR’ type of work described above as part of their other job, managerial, or leadership tasks.
Specific topics covered include: organizational internal and external flexibilities; progression and succession; skills acquisition; compensation implications of using external labor markets; employment acquisition in external labor markets; managing split or ambiguous identities and loyalties; knowledge sharing and ‘information leakage;’ dealing with mediators of flexible labor such as agents, temporary work agencies, consulting bureaus, etc.; the ‘economies’ of flexibility; and the ‘existential’ aspects of flexible/freelance work – from freedom to insecurity. The course examines at among others, ‘creative industries’ – film/TV, new media, etc; network organizations; knowledge-intensive organizations and work constellation based on project forms of organization; industrial and service sectors characterized by high worker turnover and use of temporary workers; and voluntary organizations.
The course is designed to appeal to students who intend to work flexibly themselves (as consultants, freelancers, self-employed) and aspire to understand the labor markets and organizational contexts they will confront as well as  persons who intend to work for companies and organizations that use use flexible staffing arrangements to a significant extent.

Teaching methods
A combination of lectures, cases, and small group exercizes will be used.
Expected literature
Indicative literature:
Amuedo-Dorantes, C., and Kimmel, J. (2005) Moonlighting Behavior over the Business Cycle Bonn: IZA Discussion Paper no. 1671.
Arthur, M. B. and Rousseau, D. (1995) The Boundaryless Career New York: Oxford University Press.
Barley, S. & G. Kunda (2004) Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies: Itinerant experts in a knowledge economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cappelli, P. (2008) Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Cappelli, P. (2009) ‘A Supply Chain Model for Talent Management’ People & Strategy 32 4-7.
Dal Fiore, F. (2007) ‘Communities versus Networks: The Implications on Innovation and Social Change’ American Behavioral Scientist 50 857-866.
De Laurentis, C. (2006) ‘Regional Innovation Systems and the Labour Market: A Comparison of Five Regions’ European Planning Studies 14 1059-1084.
Doogan, K. (2010) New Capitalism? The transformation of work. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Kalleberg, A. (2000) ‘Non-Standard Employment Relations: Part-time, Temporary, and Contract Work’ Annual Review of Sociology 26 341-365.
Kelly, E. and Kalev, A. (2006) ‘Managing Flexible Work Arrangements in US Organizations: Formalized Discretion or ‘a right to ask’ Socio-Economic Review 4 379-416.
King, Z. (2004) ‘Career Self-Management: Its Nature, Causes and Consequences’ Journal of Vocational Behavior 65 112-133.
Koene, B. and van Riemsdijk (2005) ‘Managing Temporary Workers: Work Identity, Diversity, and Operational HR Choices’ Human Resource Management Journal 15 76-92.
Korpi, T. and Levin, H. (2001) ‘Precarious Footing: Temporary Employment as a Stepping Stone Out of Unemployment in Sweden’ Work, Employment and Society 15 127-148.
Lichtenstein, B. and Mendenhall, M. (2002) ‘Non-linearity and Response-ability: Emergent Order in 21st Century Careers’, Human Relations 55, 5-32.
Mallon, M. (1998) ‘The Portfolio Career: Pushed or Pulled to it?’, Personnel Review 27 361-377.
Marler, J., Barringer, M.W., and Milkovich, G.T. (2002) ‘Boundaryless and Traditional Contingent Employees: Worlds Apart’ Journal of Organizational Behavior 23 425-453.
Mathieu, C. (2012) Careers in Creative Industries. New York: Routledge.
Michie, J. and Sheehan, M. (2003) ‘Labour Market Deregulation, ‘Flexibility’ and Innovation’ Cambridge Journal of Economics 27 123-143.
Michie, J. & Sheehan, M. (2003) ‘Labour ‘flexibility’ – securing management’s right to manage badly?’ in Systems of Production: markets, organisations and performance. Edited by Brendon Burchell, Simon Deakin, Jonathan Michie & Jill Rubery. London: Routledge.
Michie, J. and Sheehan, M. (2005) ‘Business Strategy, Human Resources, Labour Market Flexibility and Competitive Advantage’ International Journal of Human Resource Management 16 445-464.
Last updated on 16-10-2012