The Diffusion of Employment Practices across Firms

The Diffusion of Employment Practices across Firms

(SNF project: 100017_165059, project period: 2016-2019,  354'954 CHF)

with Marlis Buchmann, Helen Buchs, Malte Döhne

Part-time work in Switzerland, already high by international standards, has rapidly expanded in recent years. Trends in employers’ demands for part-time workers, which are seldom examined, show a dramatic and unusual tendency. Since 1990 advertisements for “almost-full-time” workers (80-95%) have grown from almost nothing to 8% of job advertisements, eventually outpacing ads for standard part-time work (50-79%), which dropped from over 11% to less than 8% of all advertisements (Swiss Job Market Monitor (SJMM)). In contrast, most part-time workers, even new hires, tend to have standard part-time jobs rather than almost-full- time—about 14.3% versus 8.0% in 2013 (Swiss Labor Market Survey (SAKE)). The rapid rise of almost-full-time vacancies contrasted with the more moderate rise in incidence begs the question: Why have employers taken such a surprisingly active, and accelerating, role in fostering almost-full-time work? Such a dramatic accelerating trend suggests the beginning of a diffusion process, a process in which firms make choices not only in response to their individual conditions, but also in response to each other. The proposed project investigates: (a) which types of firms first offered almost-full-time positions; (b) the reasons why other firms followed suit; and (c) the dynamics of how these practices spread.