An examination of the expectations between core and peripheral workers

Evans, Linda
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The purpose of this study is to analyze the development, characteristics and dynamics of the core and peripheral segments of the work force using Immanuel Wallerstein's Modern World System Theory (1974), a theory traditionally reserved for macro-level analysis between nations in the world economy. Core-periphery relationships between nations are characterized by inequality, dependence, and exploitation. Moreover, role theory is used to explore the employment relations and work expectations which exist between these two segments of the work force. Role theorists contend that people's occupational roles are a strong determinant of the traits ascribed to them. A major premise of this study is that people who are placed in a peripheral organizational position will immediately be faced with a set of defining expectations associated with that status;Twenty one hypotheses were proposed and tested, twelve of which were supported by the data, to investigate the expectations which exist between core and peripheral workers. The sample consisted of 219 (core) tenure track faculty and 93 (peripheral) non-tenure track faculty from a Midwestern state university. The results of this study did show that work roles influence expectations. Core faculty rated themselves significantly higher than they rated peripheral faculty on such traits as being more assertive, having more leadership ability and being more committed to the university. These are valued characteristics traditionally associated with the work ethic of employees in full-time positions. It was found that members of both faculty groups felt that peripheral faculty have more opportunity, both within the university system as well as in the larger environment. This study also details high levels of stress and perceived inequity as reported by the core faculty;Contemporary American society is a society in transition. Due to a fundamental economic restructuring which has accelerated the pace of change in the past ten years, our current work force is becoming bifurcated into core and peripheral segments. The findings of this study emphasize the necessity of gaining an understanding of the expectations that exist between these groups in order that their working time together be both productive and mutually beneficial.