Nonstandard Work As a Counterbalance to Employment Institutional Change – the Case of Taiwan
A representative organization survey (N=2632, the majority are private firms) was conducted in order to investigate how institutional, organizational and Taiwan-specific industrial factors affect the decision of adopting nonstandard work. The survey takes into account the heterogeneity within nonstandard work and examines part-time, fixed-term, dispatched, and contract workers as specific employment strategies and outsourcing as a general organizational strategy. While nonstandard work is considered empirically and theoretically associated with social inequality by researchers, its incidence and intensity within a firm, especially the latter, are conceptualized as firms’ attempt to evade the standard employment model and the related social protections. Logistic and tobit analyses show that outsourcing, as a general organizational strategy, serves as the major way to evade the institutional factors (rising employment regulation and mandates), but this is not the case when nonstandard work is considered as an employment strategy. In contrast, organizational factors (needs for staffing and production flexibilities) are widely related to the use of nonstandard work as both employment and organizational strategies. As for Taiwan-specific industrial factors, firms that are located at lower positions in a subcontracting system (being a subcontractor to other firms), which has been practiced since the first take-off of the Taiwanese economy in the 1960’s, are overwhelmingly in favor of all forms of nonstandard work. The result suggests that when institutional factors are the concern, employers tend to opt for a complete externalization of employment relations. Moreover, organizational factors and the legacy of the Taiwanese industrial structure are the major forces that drive employers to alter their employment practices and consequently counterbalance the changes in the employment institutions.