Seniority Based Pay System and the Relational Basis of Workplace Inequality

Kwon, Hyunji and Ham, Sunyu. 2017. Korean Journal of Labor Studies 23(2): 1-45.

This study aims at explaining organizational mechanisms of inequality that has been rising rapidly alongside the proliferation of irregular employment in the post-crisis Korean labor market. It argues that inequality is not sufficiently explained by individual gap in human capital or widespread marketization as such Social categories into which each individual worker falls seems more important as a source of labor market inequality. Employment types that are composed of regular and irregular employment do not simply indicate the different economic meanings of employment contracts but have rather been institutionalized as a social category of status in the context of inequality over the past two decades. Thy are also often matched with other social categories such as gender that have created and reproduced greater labor market inequality. 

We pay attention to the organizational practice of dominant incumbents who make claims for advantages of return based on their exclusive accessibility to limited organizational resources and explain how that particular practice plays a role to increase relational inequality between how that particular practice plays a role to increase relational inequality between those insiders who achieve advantageous returns and outsiders mostly irregular workers who are excluded from those resources because of the social categories that they belong to. In this study, we identify seniority based pay as the key organizational practice that justifies categorical differences within the workplace and examine how that particular practice contributes to organizational level segmentation and income inequality.

Next Post
Previous Post