1989 volume 7(2) pages 223 – 241

Cite as:
Klak T, 1989, "Does high technology polarize the work force?" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 7(2) 223 – 241

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Does high technology polarize the work force?

T Klak

Received 10 February 1988; in revised form 7 June 1988

Abstract. The well-known argument that high-technology industry polarizes the work force appears to be an extrapolation primarily from two patterns: the occupational characteristics of the semiconductor industry, and the seeming occupational polarization of the US economy as a whole. The proposition that high-technology industry is responsible for the polarization of work forces is operationalized and statistically assessed in this paper. Operating from a definition of 'high technology' used by government agencies, a county-level analysis of the relation between employment in high-technology firms and in various higher-skill and lower-skill occupations reveals only limited empirical support for the 'high-technology work force polarization' (hereafter HTWFP) argument. This suggests that generalizations about the occupational impacts of high technology have been overdrawn, and that further research should focus less on extrapolating to the general case and more on examining and comparing a variety of high-technology industries and their relationships to local labor-markets.

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