Using Qualitative Data to Understand Employer Behaviour in Low-Wage Labour Markets

  • Damian Grimshaw


In the field of labour economics there is growing recognition that individual employers, operating in imperfect labour markets, play a strong role in shaping job quality – whether in crafting jobs, allocating workers to jobs, influencing the degree of job security, shaping patterns of horizontal and vertical job mobility or setting wages (Autor et al., 2003; Jones et al., 2003; Manning, 2003a; OECD, 1997). Taken to its limit, this represents a shift away from a model of anonymized labour market processes (in which price is the determining factor) to one where employers are viewed as the main architects of wage and employment structures. While many studies dispute the long-term impact of employer behaviour (recalling Hicks, 1932), it is nevertheless the case that models and studies that incorporate a role for the employer have contributed to many of the theoretical advances in recent years.1


Labour Market Minimum Wage Product Market Collective Bargaining Niche Market 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acemoglu, D. and J.-S. Pischke (2003) ‘Minimum wages and on-the-job training’, Research in Labor Economics, 22, 159–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akerlof, G. (1982) ‘Labour contracts as partial gift exchange’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 97, 543–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Akerlof, G. and J. Yellen (1986) Efficiency Wage Models of the Labour Market (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Appelbaum, E., A. Bernhardt and R. J. Murnane (eds) (2003) Low-Wage America: How Employers are Reshaping Opportunity in the Workplace (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).Google Scholar
  5. Arulampalam, W., A. L. Booth and M. L. Bryan (2002) ‘Work-Related Training and the New National Minimum Wage in Britain’, mimeo Colchester Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.Google Scholar
  6. Autor, D. H., D. Levy and R. J. Murnane (2003) ‘Computer-Based Technological Change and Skill Demands: Reconciling the Perspectives of Economists and Sociologists’, in E. Appelbaum, A. Bernhardt and R. J. Hurnane (eds), Low-Wage America: How Employers are Reshaping Opportunity in the Workplace (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).Google Scholar
  7. Bazen, S. (2000) ‘The impact of wage regulation on inequality and labour market flexibility: a comparative approach’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 16 (1).Google Scholar
  8. Beynon, H., D. Grimshaw, J. Rubery and K. Ward (2002) Managing Employment Change: The New Realities of Work (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bhaskar, V. and T. To (1999) ‘Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition’, Economic Journal, 109, 190–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Blau, F. D. and L. M. Kahn (1992) ‘The gender earnings gap: learning from international comparisons’, American Economic Review, 82, 533–8.Google Scholar
  11. Brosnan, P. (2003) ‘The Political Economy of the Minimum Wage’, in B. Burchell, S. Deakin, J. Michie and J. Rubery (eds), Systems of Production (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  12. Bulow, J. I. and L. H. Summers (1986) ‘A theory of dual labour markets with application to industrial policy, discrimination and Keynesian unemployment’, Journal of Labour Economics, 4 (3), 376–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Card, D. and A. Krueger (1995) Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  14. Coase, R. (1937) ‘The nature of the firm’, Economica, November, 386–405.Google Scholar
  15. Craig, C., E. Garnsey and J. Rubery (1984) Payment Structures and Smaller Organizations: Women’s Employment in Segmented Labour Markets, UK Department of Employment, Research Paper no. 48 (London).Google Scholar
  16. Doeringer, P. B. and M. J. Piore (1971) Internal Labour Markets and Manpower Analysis (Lexington, Mass.: Heath).Google Scholar
  17. Dunlop, John T. (1957) ‘The Task of Contemporary Wage Theory’, in G. W. Taylor and F. C. Pierson (eds), New Concepts in Wage Determination (New York: McGraw-Hill).Google Scholar
  18. Edwards, P. and M. Gilman (1999) ‘Pay equity and the minimum wage’, Human Resource Management Journal, 9 (1), 20–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989) ‘Building theories from case study research’, The Academy of Management Review, 14 (4), 532–50.Google Scholar
  20. Fairris, D. and R. Pedace (2003) ‘The Impact of Minimum Wages on Job Training: An Empirical Exploration with Establishment Data’, mimeo (Riverside, CA: University of California).Google Scholar
  21. Falk, A., E. Fehr and C. Zehnder (2002) ‘The Behavioural Effects of Minimum Wages’, mimeo (Zurich: University of Zurich).Google Scholar
  22. Fehr, E. and G. Kirchsteiger (1994) ‘Insider power, wage discrimination and fairness’, The Economic Journal, 104, 571–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Forth, J. and N. Millward (2001) The Low-Paid Worker and the Low-Paying Employer: Characterizations Using WERS98, Discussion Paper No. 179 (London: National Institute of Economic and Social Research).Google Scholar
  24. Freeman, R. (1996) ‘The minimum wage as a redistributive tool’, The Economic Journal, 106 (May), 639–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gilman, M., P. Edwards, M. Ram and J. Arrowsmith (2002) ‘Pay determination in small firms in the UK: the case of the response to the National Minimum Wage’, Industrial Relations Journal, 33 (1), 52–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grimshaw, D. and M. Carroll (2002) Qualitative research on firms’ adjustments to the minimum wage, report for the Low Pay Commission (London: Scholar
  27. Grimshaw, D. and J. Rubery (1998) ‘Integrating the internal and external labour markets’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 22 (2), 199–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Grimshaw, D. and J. Rubery (2003) ‘Economics and Industrial Relations: An Unsatisfactory Marriage of Stereotypes?’, in P. Ackers and A. Wilkinson (eds), Understanding Employment (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  29. Güth, W. (1995) ‘On ultimatum bargaining experiments: a personal review’, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 3, 367–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Helper, S. (2000) ‘Economists and field research: “you can observe a lot just by watching”‘, American Economic Review, May.Google Scholar
  31. Hicks, J. (1932) The Theory of Wages (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  32. Jones, D. C., T. Kato and A. Weinberg (2003) ‘Managerial Discretion, Business Strategy and the Quality of Jobs: Evidence from Medium-Sized Manufacturing Establishments in Central New York’, in E. Appelbaum, A. Bernhardt and R. J. Murnane (eds), Low-Wage America: How Employers are Reshaping Opportunity in the Workplace (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).Google Scholar
  33. Katz, L. and A. B. Krueger (1992) ‘The effect of the minimum wage on the fast food industry’, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 46, 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kerr, C. (1954) ‘The Balkanisation of Labour Markets’, in E. Wright Bakke (ed.), Labor Mobility and Economic Opportunity (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press).Google Scholar
  35. Kerr, C. and P. D. Staudohar (1994) Labour Economics and Industrial Relations: Markets and Institutions (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  36. Leibenstein, H. (1966) ‘Allocative efficiency vs. “x-efficiency”‘, American Economic Review, 56 (3), 392–415.Google Scholar
  37. Leighton, L. and J. Mincer (1981) ‘The Effects of the Minimum Wage on Human Capital Formation’, in S. Rottenberg (ed.), The Economics of Legal Minimium Wages (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research).Google Scholar
  38. Leslie, D. and Y. Pu (1996) ‘What caused rising earnings inequality in Britain? Evidence from time series, 1970–93’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 34, 111–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lester, R. (1946) ‘Shortcomings of marginal analysis for wage-employment problems’, American Economic Review, 36, 63–82.Google Scholar
  40. Lester, R. (1954) Hiring Practices and Labor Competition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  41. Lindbeck, A. and D. J. Snower (1986) ‘Wage setting, unemployment, and insider– outsider relations’, American Economic Review, 76 (2), 235–9.Google Scholar
  42. Low Pay Commission (LPC) (2003) The National Minimum Wage: Building on Success Cmnd 5768 (London: HMSO).Google Scholar
  43. Lynch, L. (1994) ‘Payoffs to Alternative Training Strategies at Work, in R. B. Freeman (ed.), Working under Different Rules (New York: Russell Sage).Google Scholar
  44. Machin, S. and A. Manning (1994) ‘Minimum wages, wage dispersion and employment: evidence from the UK Wages Councils’, Industrial and Labour Relations Review, 47, 319–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Manning, A. (2003a) Monopsony in Motion: Imperfect Competition in Labour Markets (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  46. Manning, A. (2003b) ‘The Real Thin Theory: Monopsony in Modern Labour Markets, mimeo (London: Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science).Google Scholar
  47. Marchington, M, D. Grimshaw, J. Rubery and H. Willmott (eds) (2004) Fragmenting Work: Crossing Boundaries and Disordering Hierarchies (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Marsden, D. (1986). The End of Economic Man? Custom and Competition in Labour Markets (Brighton: Wheatsheaf).Google Scholar
  49. Miles, M. B. (1979) ‘Qualitative data as an attractive nuisance: the problem of analysis’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 590–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Miles, M. B. and A. M. Huberman (1984) Qualitative Data Analysis (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage).Google Scholar
  51. Myers, C. and G. Schulz (1951) The Dynamics of a Labor Market (New York: Prentice-Hall).Google Scholar
  52. Neumark, D. and W. Wascher (1998) Minimum Wages and Training Revisited, NBER Working Paper No. 6651 (Cambridge, Mass.: NBER).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. OECD (1997) Labour Market Policies: New Challenges – Policies for Low Paid Workers and Unskilled Job Seekers (Paris: Directorate for Education, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD).Google Scholar
  54. Piore, M. J. (1979) Qualitative Research Techniques in Economics, Administrative Science Quarterly, 24 (4), December, 560–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Prabsch, R. (1996) ‘In defense of the minimum wage’, Journal of Economic Issues, 30 (2), 391–7.Google Scholar
  56. Ram, M., P. Edwards, M. Gilman and J. Arrowsmith (2001) ‘The dynamics of informality: employment relations in small firms and the effects of regulatory change’, Work, Employment and Society, 15, 845–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reynolds, L. (1951) The Structure of Labor Markets, Wages and Labor Mobility in Theory and Practice (New York: Harper & Row).Google Scholar
  58. Rosen, S. (1972) ‘Learning and experience in the labor market’, Journal of Human Resources, 7, 326–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Roth, A. (1995) ‘Bargaining Experiments’, in J. Kagel and A. Roth (eds), Handbook of Experimental Economics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  60. Rubery, J. (1994) ‘Internal and External Labour Markets: Towards an Integrated Framework’, in J. Rubery and F. Wilkinson (eds), Employer Strategy and the Labour Market (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  61. Rubery, J. (1997) ‘Wages and the labour market’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 35 (3), 337–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Solow, R. (1990) The Labour Market as a Social Institution (Oxford : Basil Blackwell).Google Scholar
  63. Yin, R. K. (1981) ‘The case-study crisis: some answers’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 26, 58–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Damian Grimshaw 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Damian Grimshaw

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations