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An institutional analysis of the formation of jobs in software work in the United States, 1945-2001

Honarvar, Roohollah (2015) An institutional analysis of the formation of jobs in software work in the United States, 1945-2001. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Information technology (IT) jobs are characterized by continuous change and increasing fragmentation, yet there is no explanation for why this has been the case. In this research, drawing on a historical institutional perspective, I study IT work as an instant of skilled work under capitalism that is subject to interactions among different institutions over long periods of time. In particular, I focus on the dynamics of the relationship between the institutional arrangements of skill formation in IT work, competition in the IT industry and employment relationships in the IT labor market. The main actors involved in the shaping of these institutional arrangements are the government, IT corporations and workers. Empirically, the research focuses on the history of software work in the U.S. IT industry (1945-2001). I draw on existing histories of the industry and corporations as well as a variety of publications that shed light on the industry, individual corporations, training institutions or the labor market. This includes newspapers and magazines, professional and trade journals, government and industry reports, company reports and archives, oral histories and biographies of software workers or businessmen. I study four periods of the history of the IT industry: the emergence of software work and the rise of IBM (1945-1954), IBM’s dominance before the unbundling decision (1955-1969), the dominance and decline of IBM (1969-1985), and finally, the rise of Microsoft until the burst of dotcom bubble (1985-2001). The central argument of this thesis is that, in the absence of a governmental intervention aimed at stabilizing the labor market, the strategic and tactical decisions of IT corporations involved in the dynamics of IT product competition destabilized IT jobs and effectively prevented the formation of a solid occupational collectivity which is a precondition of institutionalization of jobs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Roohollah Honarvar
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Avgerou, Chrisanthi

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