ILR Review Conference and Special Issue on “Work and Employment Relations in Health Care”

The Industrial and Labor Relations Review is calling for papers for a conference and subsequent publication devoted to work and employment relations in health care. Conference co-organizers Ariel C. Avgar (Illinois), Adrienne E. Eaton (Rutgers), Rebecca Givan (Rutgers), and Adam Seth Litwin (Johns Hopkins) will assist the journal’s regular editors in developing the issue.

Scholars interested in participating should submit a paper to the conference organizers by November 15, 2013. Authors whose papers are accepted will be invited to a conference sponsored by the University of Illinois, School of Labor and Employment Relations and the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, to be held in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on March 14 and 15, 2014. Conference expenses will be partially subsidized. Papers presented at this conference should be suitable for submission to external reviewers. Based on the organizers’ recommendations, discussions at the conference, and fit with the issue, a subset of authors will be asked to submit their papers to the ILRReview with the expectation that their papers will be published in the special issue once they pass the external review process. Papersthat reviewers deem of good quality that are not selected for the special issue will be considered forpublication in a regular issue of the journal.

[additional details are available after the jump]

The health care industry in the United States and in most developed and developing countries is in a state of rapid change. The industry faces dramatic challenges both in terms of the quality of care provided and in escalating costs and shortages in many key occupational groups.As such, scholarly interest is growing in this sector as a unique setting in which to study work, organizations, and employment relations.

Over the last decade, employment relations research in the health care sector has shed new light on a variety of innovations—from new models of labor representation and work structures to emerging methods of delivering patient care. Scholars from a number of disciplines have begun to examine the relationship between these innovations and their outcomes for organizations, employees, and patients. Nevertheless, the need is substantial for additional empirical evidence regarding the manner in which these different organizational innovations influence key outcomes for a variety of stakeholders. For example, large-scale investments in information technology (IT) are expected to revolutionize the nature of health care delivery in all three subsectors. However, employment relations theory and early empirical studies suggest that material performance improvements hinge on a careful restructuring of work systems around the new technologies. We also have much to learn regarding the interplay of market and institutional forces in the health care workplace. Apparent shortages in many important occupational groups, including primary care physicians, nurses, and other technical occupations, have sparked policy debates about the nature, sources, and solutions to these problems. Some scholars argue that perceived and actual shortages of domestically trained nurses and other occupational groups have led to programs of recruitment of foreign-trained and foreign-born workers to fill such gaps. And, at both the high- and low-skilled ends of the labor market, the system is dependent on global labor migration. All of this makes for a fertile context in which to study emerging workplace phenomena and their consequences for multiple stakeholders, within and beyond the health care domain.

We are especially interested in empirical submissions from scholars whose work is grounded in the health care workplace with diverse disciplinary perspectives from sociology, psychology, economics, or political science incorporated, as well as collaborative pieces from social scientists and scholars in medicine or public health. International research is especially encouraged, though U.S.-focused research is certainly welcome.Papers may be supported by a range of methodologies, including survey research, qualitative or quantitative case studies, or statistical analyses of archival data.

Potential topic areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Management responses to technologically induced changes in the organization of work
  • Implications of health care reform for multiple organizational stakeholders including patients, managers, employees, and unions
  • Organizational experimentation with new forms of employee involvement
  • Changes in physician compensation, pay inequality, and the gender pay gap resulting from new payment models, including managed care
  • Partnerships between health care purchasers and providers aimed at improving care quality and efficiency
  • New models of patient care delivery, such as patient-centered care or relationship-centered care
  • New inter- or intra-organizational models of skill development and job ladders
  • The relationship between care quality for patients and job quality for workers
  • Workforce implications of the recent emphasis on health care quality and patient safety

Prospective contributors are urged to consult any of the coordinators regarding preliminary proposals or ideas for papers. To submit your full paper for consideration for the conference and subsequent consideration for the ILRReview special issue, please e-mail it to by the November 15, 2013, deadline.

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