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[Excerpt] Over the past three decades the nature of work in many American organizations has drastically changed. Alongside a general organizational restructuring, the traditional employment relationship is being redefined and is taking on a variety of new shapes and forms. In this masterful and insightful book, Stephen Barley and Gideon Kunda study the intricate and often counter-intuitive consequences associated with the changing nature of work. Specifically, they examine one of the clear manifestations of organizational restructuring—the shift to contracted work in the high-tech sector. Employing their ethnographic expertise, Barley and Kunda successfully reclaim the mandate of organizational studies to explore the complex and multidimensional effects of organizational transformation on the way individuals (in this case, technical contractors) work. By focusing in particular on the meaning contractors give to their emerging work arrangements, they illuminate why technical contractors choose a contractual relationship rather than permanent employment, the ways they cope with employment uncertainty, and their strategies for human and social capital formation.


Suggested Citation
Kuruvilla, S. & Avgar, A. (2006). [Review of the book Gurus, hired guns, and warm bodies: Itinerant experts in a knowledge economy] [Electronic version]. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 59, 326-329.

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Copyright by Cornell University.