Category Archives: Labour Studies

IS NEW ZEALAND’S INNOVATION POLICY TOO ELITIST?

We should focus more on introducing and adapting the world’s innovations using a skilled workforce.   Pundit: 17 November, 2014   Keywords: Growth & Innovation; Labour Studies;   Our so called ‘innovation policy’, which is at the heart of the government’s growth strategy – insofar as it has one – seems to be fundamentally flawed….
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‘aging and the Labour Market Conference’

Comments for Concluding Session of NIDEA University of Waikato, February 2-3, 2012. Keywords: Labour Studies; Political Economy & History; To begin with congratulating the organisers of conference, who have produced one of those stimulating events which will be long remembered by the professions as the foundation for a major debate. But I would also like…
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The Origins Of Arbitration

Prelude to Arbitration in Three Movements: Ulster, South Australia, New Zealand: 1890-1894 by W. J. Gardner (2009) 174pp. (Available from W. J. Gardner, Box 5634, Papanui, Christchurch 8542, $NZ30) Published in Labour History Project, Newsletter 49 July 2010, p.25-27. Keywords: Labour Studies; Political Economy & History; The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act, passed in 1894,…
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The Challenge Of Globalisation

Presentation to an EPMU seminar, 29 April, 2010 Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Labour Studies; Twenty years ago the Engineering Union commissioned me to think about the alternative to Rogernomics. According to the last prime minister, Helen Clark, my report Open Growth was influential on the last Labour Government’s economic strategy, although it was not totally…
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The Trans-tasman Labour Market

Contribution to a panel which is a part of the launch of the Australia-New Zealand Connections Research Centre (ANZRC), University of Canterbury, Christchurch, Friday 10 October 2008.   Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Labour Studies; Political Economy & History;   The Trans-Tasman labour market is over two hundred years old – perhaps since the first convict…
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The Globalisation Of a Welfare State

Chapter 3 of New Zealand, New Welfare, edited by N. Lunt, M. O’Brien & R. Stephens. (Cenage Learning, 2007)   Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Labour Studies; Social Policy;   In March 1952, just two men were on the Department of Social Security’s unemployment benefit. The rules of entitlement partly determine the numbers, but those registered…
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To Celebrate the Jobs Letter Contribution to the Public Debate and Regret Its Demise

Published in the last issues of The Jobs Letter 254, 9 September 2006 (http://www.jobsletter.org.nz)   Keywords: Labour Studies;   It seems a such long time since unemployment peaked in early 1992 in at 11.1 percent of the labour force, when over 181,000 New Zealanders were jobless and actively seeking work. Others had become so disheartened…
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The Youth Labour Market Guarantee: the Environment

This was prepared in May 2006 for a report on a Youth Labour Market Guarantee.   Keywords: Education; Growth & Innovation; Labour Studies;   Introduction.   This paper provides an environment in which any Youth Labour Market Guarantee package must function. It covers the Government Vision statement, the latest Department of Labour 2005 statement The…
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What Does Reform Mean?

How to preserve the social market economy in a modern Europe.

Listener: 30 July, 2005.

Keywords: Labour Studies;

Reform is a weasel word, avoiding specifics because advocates are either not sure what it means or they don’t want others to know. So, when the German Government and the Goethe-Institut offered me the opportunity to study the German economy, I just had to look at the reality of its “reforms” debate. Some of the implemented ones – pressures on the unemployed to take up work – seem not too different from ours. But some proposals have the ideology underpinning our Employment Contracts Act (ECA).

Ticketing the Future

Presentation to the Annual Conference of the Industry Training Federation, 16 July, 2004, Wellington.

Keywords: Education; Labour Studies;

Economists are not very good at forecasting the future. I look at what I wrote twenty years ago, and realise just how much I got it wrong. Or you might consider that before you is one of the first New Zealand university students to use a mainframe computer, someone who encouraged his children to use ZX81s, who was probably one of the first economists in New Zealand to use a PC (a 186), and who still failed to forecast the ICT revolution.

Working with Technological Innovation

Chapter of TRANSFORMING NEW ZEALAND. This is a draft. Comments welcome.

Keywords: Labour Studies;

The endogenous account of technical change means that all workers are involved in the application of new technologies. It is not a matter of some white-coated workers turning up at the warehouse taking the blueprints and handing them over to business that put them smoothly into practice. In practice workers can be intimately involved with the technology transfer process.

Productivity and Employment (version 2): NZ’s Post-war Economic Performance

Keywords: Growth & Innovation; Labour Studies;

New OECD data bases enables the revision updating and extension of an earlier version of Productivity and Employment: New Zealand’s Post-War Economic Growth Performance. It still belongs to a series, Comparison with the OECD and Comparison with Australia.

An earlier version of this paper [1] used the Maddison data base which had some statistics of employment and hours worked, and allowed it to provide some estimates of productivity.[2] Recently the OECD published a more comprehensive. albeit shorter, data base.[3] This paper revises the earlier paper, incorporating the new data.

Working Smarter: Is Our Workforce Skilled Enough to Compete Globally?

Listener 14 December, 2002.

Keywords: Education: Labour Studies;

Instead of the five percent downtime the manufacturer specified, the expensive German machinery was malfunctioning at four times that rate. The increasingly frustrated management called in its workers, who explained they had never had any training on the use of the machine. The German manufacturer would have been astonished. Their view is that each worker was a skilled technician who had a positive role in managing the machinery, not someone to do the jobs that the machine designers had not yet automated. Training for a new technology would have been routine.

Globalisation and the Labour Market

Paper for the 2002 Labour Employment and Work Conference. 21 November, 2002. (1)

Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Labour Studies;

It is argued that globalisation was a far more potent force in the nineteenth century, than it has been in the late twentieth, for then labour was highly mobile as well as capital and goods – although it was really only European labour which was mobile. Moreover, aside from initiative, the labour which migrated probably had similar characteristics to those which stayed behind.(2)

Economic Reforms: Index

History
Sequencing (December 1983)
Freeze and Thaw
(July 1984)
Ssh …It’s the Big ‘‘D’’ (August 1984)
Confidentially Yours (August 1984)
Devaluation!: Five Turbulent Days in 1984 and Then … (July 1985)

Economic Liberalisation: Where Do People Fit In?
(May 1987)

From Run to Float: the Making of the Rogernomics Exchange Rate Policy (September 1989)
Liberalization Sequencing: The New Zealand Case (December 1989)

Towards A Political Economy of New Zealand: the Tectonics of History (October 1994)
The Wild Bunch?: An Inquiry is Needed to Restore Treasury’s Integrity (August 1996)
The Great Diversification: Ch 9 of Globalization and a Welfare State (December 1997)
The State Steps In: Michael Bassett Makes A Case for Intervention. (August 1999)
Remaking New Zealand and Australian Economic Policy by Shaun Goldfinch (August 2001)
The Treasury and the Nationbuilding State (December 2001)

Evaluation
New Zealand’s Economic Performance This is an Index
Economic and Other Ideas Behind the New Zealand Reforms
(October 1994)
For Whom the Deal Tolls (Of Dogma and Dealers) (August 1996)
The Economic Impact of the Employment Contracts Act (October 1997)
Microeconomic Reform: The New Zealand Experience (February 1998)
Some Macroeconomics of the Employment Contracts Act (November 1998)
View From Abroad: What Do We Know about Economic Growth? (May 1999)
The Model Economist: Bryan Philpott (1921-2000) (August 2000)
Comparison with Australia: New Zealand’s Post-war Economic Growth Performance (August 2002)

The Debate
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy? (February 1991)
Friends in High Places: Rogernomic Policies Have Powerful Allies in Australia (April 1994)
Systemic Failure (December 1995)
Ignoring the Critics (February 1997)
A Permanent Revolution? (March 1997)
In the Dark: The State of Research Into the Economy is An Embarrassment (June 1997)
The New Zealand Experiment: A Model for World Structural Adjustment? (Review) (July 1997)
Out of Tune: Even the Officials Admit the Health Reforms Were Fatally Flawed. (December 1997)
Money for Jams: the Government Response to Roading Reforms is Commercialisation. (January 1998)
Reforms, Risks, and Rogernomics (March 1999)
The London Economist and the New Zealand Economy (December 2000)
Locked Out: of Free Press and Free Economics (May 2001)
A Surplus of Imitation (June 2001)
Government Spending and Growth Rates: A Methodological Debate (January-May 2002)
From Pavlova Paradise Revisited by Austin Mitchell (July 2002)
Manure and the Modern Economy: Has Economic Policy Hardly Changed? (September 2002)
From is This As Good As it Gets? (December 2002)
1999 and All That (January 2004)

Books
The Commercialisation of New Zealand (1997)
In Stormy Seas: the Post-war New Zealand Economy (Chapters 15-16) (1997)
The Whimpering of the State: Policy After MMP (1999)

Productivity and Employment: NZ’s Post-war Economic Growth Performance

Note: This paper has been replaced by a more recent version based on a more comprensive data base. Go here for the most recent version

Keywords: Growth & Innovation, Labour Studies

Introduction

It is not always wise to promise an empirically based paper before the research has been done. When preparing New Zealand’s Post-War Growth Performance: Comparison with the OECD[1], I observed that the Maddison data base on which the OECD data derived also had some statistics of employment and hours worked, which allowed it to provide some estimates of productivity.[2] New Zealand was not included, but since there was comparable data for New Zealand, I thought, it would be straight forward to include New Zealand in the data base. Hence the promise to produce this paper.

Does Professionalism Matter? in Health and Education It Still May

Listener April 20, 2002.

Keywords Education; Governance; Health; Labour Studies

In Graham Scott’s Business Roundtable published Public Sector Management in New Zealand”, the ex-Secretary of the Treasury provides an account of the late 1980s public management reforms with which he was closely involved. The book includes a few pages on critics of the reforms, including a half-hearted account of my views in The Whimpering of the State (and these columns). Scott writes, ‘Easton makes the extraordinary claim that reformers ignored, or sought to undermine, the personal responsibility and professionalism of the core public sector.’ I am not sure I went that far, but I did report American expert Alan Schick’s concern that there appeared to be an unaddressed tension between the reform’s managerialism with its emphasis on accountability, and professionalism which emphasises responsibility. Curiously (I will not write ‘extraordinarily’), Scott’s book does not provide much evidence that professionalism is a central concern, for its few mentions are desultory. There is more concern about ‘professional capture’, the danger that professionals will administer the system in their interests rather than the wider public good. (The issue echoes the corporate management/shareholder tension I wrote about in my last column Guard Dogs That Fail to Bark.)

Reviews Of Two Books on Labour Skills and Social Progress

High Skills: Globalisation, Competitiveness, and Skill Formation by Phillip Brown, Andy Green & Hugh Lauder (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Capitalism and Social Progress: The Future of Society in the Global Economy by Phillip Brown & Hugh Lauder (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2001)
NZ Journal of Adult Education April 2002.

Keywords Education; Growth & Innovation; Labour Studies

‘Knowledge-driven economies are associated with polarization and inequality rather than convergence and equality’ is the sort of challenge that our ‘Knowledge Wave’ adherents, wrapped up in rhetoric rather than analysis, would want to ignore. High Skills goes on ‘How societies tackle the problem of social exclusion and positional competition fro education, training and jobs is therefore an important pressure point for all countries’. So the writers are not rejecting the potentiality of the knowledge based economy, and its benefits – higher living standards of more and new products and better quality jobs. Rather, both books consider how we need to organise society given the knowledge-driven economy which is a response to globalisation.

Mind Your I’s and Q’s

Book Review of Capitalism and Social Progress: the Future of Society in A Global Economy, by Phillip Brown & Hugh Lauder (Palgrave, $67.95)
Listener 16 February, 2002.

Keywords Political Economy & History; Labour Studies

The book recalls ‘in the aftermath of the Second World War the state emerged with a new mandate to create greater economic security and opportunity, where all would see their slice of the cake increase even if some were getting more than others.’ It was a ‘“Golden era” of western capitalism … built on “walled” economies of massed-produced goods and services which offered a decent family wage to low-skilled workers. … Much of the prosperity in this period depended on a political settlement between the state, employers and workers.’