CONCLUSIONThe quality control dilemma facing rural just-in-time suppliers is one
justification for the superiority of urban locations. If fluctuation in demand
cannot be smoothed using unskilled temporary employees, then the existence of
external markets for workers in urban areas may provide a more feasible
solution. A similar argument can be made regarding small-batch firms with
respect to their need for highly skilled employees. Emerging industries
characterized by substantial volatility and production uncertainty may make the
internal development of workers' skills infeasible. Finns in these industries may
have no choice but to rely on external markets for skilled workers. And yet, the
strategy of relying substantially on external labor markets is contrary to high
performance, high commitment IR/HR practice. There is wide agreement that
work has become less idiosyncratic, transforming the former necessity of
internal markets to deal with problems of asset specificity into a management
option, as illustrated in the case studies presented here. In the "fragile model" of
industrial development, it is the "professionalization" of work within a specific
firm context that argues for the internalization of skill formation and promotion.
In contrast, the "resilient model" regards the "professionalization" of work as
transcending firm boundaries. Urban locations will likely be necessary to follow
this latter strategy.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FROM THE EDITORS
|1. ||Why does the author use the term "fragile virtue" in his title?|
|2. ||Will the loyalty systems the author describes here be able to withstand the
pressures of the global economy, especially competition from low-wage
|3. ||What might happen to an employer whose labor force is 40 percent
contingent during an economic boom?|
An earlier version of this chapter is available as TVA Rural Studies Staff Paper 98-
5, at http://www.rural.org/publications/. A version of this paper was presented at the 43rd
North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International in Arlington, Virginia, November 14-17, 1996. The author thanks Cynthia Rogers, Glen
Pulver, and Jonathan Zeitlin for constructive comments. The usual caveat applies. The
views expressed herein are the author's and do not necessarily represent the views of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Economic Research Service.
The names of the counties have been changed in this discussion. Readers wishing
to investigate the cases more thoroughly are invited to contact the author for the genuine
county names. The counties are located in southern Minnesota, Missouri, and Iowa and
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Small Town and Rural Economic Development:A Case Studies Approach.
Contributors: Peter V. Schaeffer - Editor, Scott Loveridge - Editor.
Publisher: Praeger Publishers.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 2000.
Page number: 258.
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