The employment relationship and inequality: How and why changes in employment practices are reshaping rewards in organizations

Matthew Bidwell, Forrest Briscoe, Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Adina Sterling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

98 Scopus citations


We review the literature on recent changes to US employment relationships, focusing on the causes of those changes and their consequences for inequality. The US employment model has moved from a closed, internal system to one more open to external markets and institutional pressures. We describe the growth of short-term employment relationships, contingent work, outsourcing, and performance pay as well as the success of social identity movements in shaping employment benefits. In doing so, we address the role of organizations as sites of conflict within and between stakeholder groups, examining how struggles among stakeholders have contributed to reorganizing employment relationships. We also examine how these changes have affected inequality by (i) influencing the distribution of rewards within organizations (via changes in the determination of pay and benefits and in the allocation of workers to jobs) and (ii) altering, on a macro level, how rewards are distributed among different stakeholders. In closing, we identify areas where future work is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-121
Number of pages61
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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