My Take

In labor markets, workers are demanding the same kind ofautonomy that we discussed in the case of the market for individuals’ attention. Labor is not merely a single factor ofproduction but also owns the means ofproduction, or capital. Specialized knowledge of a task will empower the worker to manage and control the way work is done. The clean delineation between workers, management and owners of capital is fractured as the former are also owners ofhuman capital. Skills that cannot be automated are an increasingly important resource in the digital economy, so acquisition ofthese skills will generate powerful human capital. An alignment of objectives will be pervasive as owners of financial capital are also owners of human capital, leading to a flatter organizational architecture. No more bosses!


  • 1. Note that while young firms (one to five years in existence) are generally small (less than 250 employees), not all small firms are young.
  • 2. Marginally attached workers are those who are no longer looking for work, for whatever reason.
  • 3. Author calculation based on data from the Federal Bank of St. Louis (FRED) database. By contrast, in October 2001 when the iPod was released (actual date was October 23, 2001), the ratio was 0.018 and was 0.024 six months later.
  • 4. In addition, the trend toward granularity is not reflected in the papers cited above since their data series ends in 2011.
  • 5. Dinlersoz et al. [37] segment the labor market into the entrepreneurial and corporate sector, which are associated with young and mature firms, respectively.
  • 6. I will call all labor by the generic name, workers, which could be office workers, manufacturing workers, agricultural workers, etc. The Internal Revenue Service treats employees differently from contract workers since the former file W-2 forms versus the latter fill out 1099 forms.
  • 7. These terms gained global publicity after Democratic Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton’s address at The New School in New York, in July 2015. She said, “This on-demand or so called ‘gig’ economy is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future” [46].
  • 8. Additional examples from the transportation industry are UberChopper (for helicopters) and Sailo (Uber for boats). Many thanks to Pia Sur for suggesting these examples.
  • 9. Jeffrey Young writes, “But there’s a growing sense that monologues by professors are of limited effectiveness for many of today’s students. The teaching style is a tradition passed down through generations of academics, and despite the addition of computers, projectors, and PowerPoint, little has changed in the basic model: A professor talks, large numbers of students listen, and one or two brave souls ask questions in the final moments. Class dismissed” [55].
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