Advanced

Internal labour dynamics of a downsizing firm: The Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s

Karlsson, Tobias LU (2009) Svenska ekonomisk-historiska mötet, 2009
Abstract
Labour management in the past has been the studied by researchers from various disciplines and perspectives. Among labour economists and economic historians, there is an emerging current that aims to test hypotheses derived from theories about internal labour markets. So far, most studies have focused on companies whose workforces have been stable or expanding over time. This paper analyzes the internal labour market of a downsizing firm – the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s. The company, which employed both men and women, reduced its workforce by 60 percent over the course of the decade. The reduction was caused by changing composition of consumer demand and mechanization of cigar production. These two forces did not only bring... (More)
Labour management in the past has been the studied by researchers from various disciplines and perspectives. Among labour economists and economic historians, there is an emerging current that aims to test hypotheses derived from theories about internal labour markets. So far, most studies have focused on companies whose workforces have been stable or expanding over time. This paper analyzes the internal labour market of a downsizing firm – the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s. The company, which employed both men and women, reduced its workforce by 60 percent over the course of the decade. The reduction was caused by changing composition of consumer demand and mechanization of cigar production. These two forces did not only bring about a need to reduce the workforce, but also to reallocate labour within the firm, which is the main focus of the present paper.

Transfers of workers between jobs were complicated by the gender division of labour and the preference for wage stability. Job bumping within the prevailing gender division of labour – transfers of skilled male workers to unskilled ‘male’ jobs – occurred on several occasions. Sometimes male hand cigar makers were also transferred to ‘female’ tasks, but not all borders could be crossed. For female workers, opportunities for transfers within direct production were greater and reallocations were to all appearances frequent.

There was a deeply rooted preference for wage stability among the tobacco workers. The union managed to include an article in the collective agreements stipulating that transferred workers were entitled to at least the same income level as before. This article was a more or less constant source of dispute between union and management. Raised hourly wages was the solution that eventually limited the income losses of transferred workers. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
tobacco industry, 20th century, downsizing, internal labour markets, Sweden
conference name
Svenska ekonomisk-historiska mötet, 2009
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
565f9bbf-8ae3-4533-a011-0f6e86f0c27a (old id 1469072)
date added to LUP
2009-11-03 10:34:38
date last changed
2016-04-16 11:55:35
@misc{565f9bbf-8ae3-4533-a011-0f6e86f0c27a,
  abstract     = {Labour management in the past has been the studied by researchers from various disciplines and perspectives. Among labour economists and economic historians, there is an emerging current that aims to test hypotheses derived from theories about internal labour markets. So far, most studies have focused on companies whose workforces have been stable or expanding over time. This paper analyzes the internal labour market of a downsizing firm – the Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s. The company, which employed both men and women, reduced its workforce by 60 percent over the course of the decade. The reduction was caused by changing composition of consumer demand and mechanization of cigar production. These two forces did not only bring about a need to reduce the workforce, but also to reallocate labour within the firm, which is the main focus of the present paper. <br/><br>
Transfers of workers between jobs were complicated by the gender division of labour and the preference for wage stability. Job bumping within the prevailing gender division of labour – transfers of skilled male workers to unskilled ‘male’ jobs – occurred on several occasions. Sometimes male hand cigar makers were also transferred to ‘female’ tasks, but not all borders could be crossed. For female workers, opportunities for transfers within direct production were greater and reallocations were to all appearances frequent. <br/><br>
There was a deeply rooted preference for wage stability among the tobacco workers. The union managed to include an article in the collective agreements stipulating that transferred workers were entitled to at least the same income level as before. This article was a more or less constant source of dispute between union and management. Raised hourly wages was the solution that eventually limited the income losses of transferred workers.},
  author       = {Karlsson, Tobias},
  keyword      = {tobacco industry,20th century,downsizing,internal labour markets,Sweden},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Internal labour dynamics of a downsizing firm: The Swedish Tobacco Monopoly in the 1920s},
  year         = {2009},
}