The high-quality academic books, upper-level student texts and journal articles on our Business, Management and Economics list offer fresh perspectives on the economy, the future of work and organisations, and the relationship between business and addressing global social challenges.
The list is home to a number of series including Organizations and Activism and Feminist Perspectives on Work and Organization, all of which are edited by leading scholars from the field, along with our journals in the area: Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, Work in the Global Economy and Global Political Economy.
Business, Management and Economics
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This chapter contrasts the power resources of its two Amazon cases, while contextualizing them within the larger platform economy. It discusses the implications of the different configurations of platform organization regarding the larger question of agency. Despite hostility from capital and despite being undermined by the broader context, traditional time laborers like Amazon warehouse workers have mobilized their growing workplace and associational power and show signs of an institutional power. Such location-based workers, including gig ones, hold an advantage over web-based workers when it comes to their societal power because of their visibility in society. Gig workers generally experience, however, overall weaker power resources because of the nature of their work and, in MTurk’s case, additionally the web-based nature of the platform. Yet they have demonstrated alternative ways of forming solidarity and digital collectives, instrumentalizing the very infrastructure of the Internet. This chapter thus highlights both traditional and more bottom-up grassroots and alternative ways of organizing in the platform economy, forming inter- and intra-platform solidarity and showing the potential of a growing labor movement. It ultimately emphasizes that, just as the conditions of the platform economy need to be understood historically and holistically, so too does the agency of workers, as it co-evolves alongside the larger political–economic and technological context.
Once hidden behind the veils of entrepreneurship, it is now clear that platforms are reshaping the world of work, and Amazon has been a forerunner in setting the trend.
This book examines two key and contrasting Amazon platforms that differ in how they organize workers: its e-commerce platform and digital labor platform (Mechanical Turk). With access to the people who are working at the heart of these platforms, it explores how different working conditions alienate workers, and how, despite these conditions, workers organize within their political-economic contexts to express their agency in traditional and alternative ways.
Written for social scientists, studying and researching the platform economy, this is a timely and important analysis of work and workers on the (digital) shop floor.
It is becoming increasingly clear: platforms, formerly hidden behind the veils of entrepreneurship, are (re)shaping the world of work and workers. As Amazon has become a forerunner in setting these trends, this book examines two key and contrasting Amazon platforms: its e-commerce platform and its digital labor platform, Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). By accessing the workers of the (digital) shop floor, it explores how different organizations of platforms estrange and alienate workers, and how, despite these conditions, workers organize within their political-economic contexts to express their agency. To do so, it differentiates between the nature of the platform and the nature of the work. While the former can be location-based or web-based, the latter refers to a traditional time-wage or gig wage. The case of Amazon's e-commerce platform, meaning the workforce in its warehouses, resembles a location-based traditional time-wage platform, whereas MTurk is an example of a web-based gig piece-wage platform. By investigating these platforms within their political-economic context and approaching their workers on a (digital) shopfloor level, this book argues that the nature of the platform and the nature of the work organize and alienate workers in different ways, with different repercussions for their collective organization, which make themselves felt in traditional and more alternative ways. In doing so, this book shares insights into the different ways in which platforms are structured and reproduce historical continuities in organizing workers and their labor, as well as into contemporary developments that reshape labor realities and how workers organize themselves within these.
This study assesses how perceptions about the quality of legal institutions affect entrepreneurial activity across US states. We employ survey data from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform regarding both the overall perceived institutional quality within a state and a multitude of subcategories. With a panel data set covering 2002–08, we find that along with overall legal quality, entrepreneurial activity across states is positively correlated with better perceptions about punitive damages, summary judgment, rules of discovery and admission of scientific and technical evidence at trial. Interestingly, interacting these variables with economic freedom typically generates non-results, though this is not the case when considering only opportunity entrepreneurship. Implications are discussed.
This article investigates the implications of Baumol’s cost disease for a publicly provided good in the presence of distortionary taxation. A model is presented in which the publicly provided good experiences low labour productivity growth relative to the private good. The public sector will grow monotonically with the productivity differential between sectors and the tax rate will be pushed to the top of the Laffer curve over time. This article also finds that the desire for redistribution will be crowded out by the impact of unbalanced growth and Baumol’s cost disease.
We recently marked the 60th anniversary of the book that established the field of public choice – The Calculus of Consent by James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock. It was also the 30th anniversary of Elinor Ostrom et al’s ‘Covenants with and without a sword’, in which she demonstrated the capacity of individuals for self-governance without submission to an external authority. This article considers these two foundational works as a starting point from which to explore the intellectual tradition of ‘democratic optimism’ in public choice. The Buchanan/Ostrom legacy is an unshakable faith in the capacity of individuals for self-governance, a significant departure from more orthodox thinking that presumed the necessity of a social planner to oversee, coordinate and enforce collective actions. Their work also illustrates the importance of questioning the assumptions of economic models and modes of thought. Examination of antecedent assumptions is useful not only for understanding the depth and complexity of economic and political choices, but also for thinking about the history of the economics discipline, the viability of research programmes and the ‘danger of self-evident truths’.
This article explores James M. Buchanan’s contributions to urban economics and urban public finance. Buchanan never self-identified as an ‘urban economist’, so his contributions to the field have blended into his broader body of work on public finance and externalities. However, in a series of papers in the 1960s and 1970s, Buchanan developed an urban fiscal club framework for thinking about urban problems that he used to analyse cities’ tax policy and the negative externalities of congestion, crime and pollution. By drawing out those ideas and their relation to each other, we can reconstruct Buchanan as an urban economist. This reconstruction casts new light on Buchanan’s service with several academic and federal urban policy commissions, including the Committee on Urban Public Expenditures and Richard Nixon’s Task Force on Urban Affairs and Task Force on Model Cities. Buchanan’s interest in urban economics has roots in an often-ignored member of his dissertation committee, Harvey Perloff. Perloff’s joint appointment with the Chicago Planning Program brought Buchanan into contact with several urban planners and urban economists who would continue to engage him in urban policy work throughout his career.
This conclusion answers the main question posed by the book: if corporate smart promises are inadequate in responding meaningfully to urban challenges in Africa, how do disruptive practices that use digital platforms do so more effectively? It also tells the conceptual story about how we make sense of socio-technical change in geographies that are politically unstable, spatially fragmented and highly inequitable, using a postcolonial STS approach. The chapter is structured around five dimensions of platform urbanism in African cities: space; the importance of flow and connection in socio-technical relations; the centrality of trust and continuity in enabling the application of technology; the tensions between existing governance frames and emerging regimes because of the digital evolution; and the African city as hybrid, that is, a messy entanglement of the old and the new.
Social mobilization is an important feature of African cities where inequality and political power undermine livelihoods. By examining digitally driven activism in South Africa and Sierra Leone, this chapter explores the notion of ‘cyborg activism’ to illustrate the experiential and hybrid dimensions of such processes. Co-production of knowledge is an important aspect of these examples because the notion of agency is revised and revisited.
Food insecurity is increasing in African cities and became particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. High food costs and the limited availability of core products are largely informed by inefficient supply chains and the lack of recognition of the informal economy and its role in the supply and distribution of food, as well as its role in enabling livelihoods. The applications discussed in this chapter focus on addressing such inefficiencies and incorporated street vendors and small farmers in the supply chain in Kenya. The chapter also considers community mobilization in relation to food exchange under COVID-19 lockdown measures in South Africa and the use of drones to monitor geophysical change related to crop management in Zanzibar.