Technological advances have reached revolutionary scale. New technologies are enabling automation in the production of goods and services at an unprecedented rate. The "productivity layoff" is not a business cycle phenomenon. Shedding workers to take advantage of productivity-enhancing technologies is increasingly a new business norm.
At issue is whether the resulting disruptions in today's labor market are no different than those experienced at the birth of each new technological revolution.
Are we experiencing the inevitable outcome of a process that will ultimately produce more plentiful and advanced employment opportunities? Or, is this technological revolution different in how quickly, pervasively, and perhaps irreversibly, it is eliminating jobs and reducing the need for workers? If it today's labor market is just experiencing the normal disruption of a new technological revolution, how many decades will the disruption last and what can be done to mitigate the pain while allowing the long-term economic gain?
Through its Technology and Employment Sustainability Initiative, (PDF, 10 MB)the Institute for Compensation Studies in Cornell University's ILR School encourages cross-sector and probing dialogue on the workplace impact of advancing technologies. Namely, what are the forces driving the high adoption rates of productivity-enhancing technologies throughout the U.S. economy?
What do scholarly experts know about how technology is impacting long-run job creation and elimination in the U.S.? What further research is needed? How can informed public discourse be encouraged on the topic? And, what initiatives could contribute to a better understanding of future challenges and possible policy implications?
With a mission to advance the world of work, Cornell-ILR is a natural leader of this groundbreaking conversation. Its expertise in human resource management, labor economics and law, organizational behavior, conflict resolution, compensation, and labor-management relations make finding workplace solutions to today's economic and social problems part of its DNA. The Institute for Compensation Studies is proud to contribute to this purpose through its Technology and Employment Sustainability Initiative.
The Institute for Compensation Studies wishes to thank many individual and organizational partners who have contributed to our Technology and Employment Sustainability Initiative – ILR's Labor Dynamics Institute, the EPRN Sustainable Entrepreneurship Network, The Conference Board, The European Commission (DG Enterprise and Industry and DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology), ILR alumnus Steven Berkenfeld '81, and all those participating in and driving this crucial dialogue.