Jobs and skills: A multivariate structural approach

Arne L. Kalleberg, Kevin T. Leicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we illustrate a multivariate structural approach to explaining inequalities in job skills. We argue that skill differences are produced by work structures operating at several levels of analysis, including organizations, occupations, technology, and unions. In addition, background characteristics of individuals are important for allocating men and women to positions in the technical division of labor. We derive measures of two dimensions of job skills (substantive complexity and autonomy) from questionnaires completed by 4567 workers, managers, and supervisors of 54 plants in 7 manufacturing industries in south-central Indiana. We supplement these questionnaire data with information on work structures obtained from interviews with key informants in each plant, which yielded information on the organizational and technological correlates of skill; and measures of occupational activities from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (3rd ed., U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, DC 1965). Our contextual models provide evidence that the different work structures have distinct impacts on the two dimensions of job skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-296
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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