Baron, James. 1984. Organizational Perspectives on Stratification. Annual Review of
Sociology. 10. 37-69.
Main Idea: in the most boring way possible, Baron links just about every classical aspect
of organizational theory to stratification. Using the works of Thompson, Pfeffer,
Granovetter and several others, Baron shows how specifics aspects of an organization
and its environment contribute and are affected by stratification.
I) The Architecture of Inequality: Organizational Variation in Opportunity and
i. The principle source of inequality is unequal access to avenues of
advancement within an organization (this was written before the
90’s boom when everyone moved up by changing jobs)
b. The internal Labor Market: Competing Interpretations
i. Theorists are put into two camps:
1. The Neo Classical Economist Types (Williamson, Weber).
a. Claim that stratification is a result of changing
technology and imperfect information regarding
jobs and skills between employers and employees.
The long run picture tends to even out any
disparities between individuals.
2. Neo Marxists (Stone, Edwards).
a. Claim that stratification is the result of the big bad
capitalist attempting to control a volatile labor
force. Employers impose a graded status
orientation for people to focus on.
ii. As of 1984, there is no resolution to this debate because data is
hard to get regarding both internal and external career processes.
c. The Impact of Size
i. Neo Classical Economists say that size increases economies of
scale and lands organizations in urban environments, which
ii. Neo Marxists claim that larger organizations are more vulnerable
to strikes and worker unrest so they increase wages.
iii. Either way, bigger organizations pay more.
d. Impact of Demography
i. If the organization is part of a small organization cohort (few other
orgs like them) they can grow and more people do well—jobs are
ii. If small, then opportunity is a zero sum game—you can’t get a job
without taking someone else’s.
e. Impact of Technology
i. Hard to tell, Technology intermediates the performance of the
worker with the performance of the firm.
f. Impact of Unionization
i. Two competing Perspectives
1. Monopoly Power: Unions get people paid more than the
company can, which leads to inter-group stratification.
2. Collective Voice: Higher wages are the premium
organizations pay for more social control and labor
ii. Each is over stylized, unions have different effects if different
contexts—Bottom-line: unions increase the wages for those
employed, while hurting those not covered.
g. Impact of Organizaitonal Environments
i. Several different genres of theories make the connection between
the organizations rewards and its environment:
1. Marxists and Institutionalisms: How well the organization
deals with “customers”, the resources, and the political
environment will affect the wages of the workers—how
they do, the article doesn’t really say.
2. Area Differences: The actual geography of where the
organizations are located and who they pay: Offices in the
suburbs pay more than the manufacturing plants in the
3. Cultural Differences: Different organizations exists within
different cultural contexts which affects the reward system.
4. Population Ecology/Economic Segmentation: Core
organizations pay more than smaller periphery. New
organization attempt to become similar to the like-est large
organization in their niche—which includes the reward
5. Resource dependence. Workers are a resource, the more
important you are, the more you will get paid.
II) Organizaitonal Variation in Sorting Processes
a. Models of Employer Decision making
i. Basically: All organizations are seeking to strike a balance
between what they want to pay and what the worker wants to get.
To do this, they need close to perfect information to find the
equilibrium, but it is hard to get information on what a person can
do, so they have to go off of “signals”—schooling being the most
important. If sources of these economic signals are not evenly
distributed, then pay in organizations will also be stratified.
Another source of information is the interpersonal networks—this
is the Granovetter stuff.
b. Interdependence of Workers’ Career Outcomes
i. People in different organizational strata want to be alike, and this
extends to race, sex and age issues—execs are all a bunch of old
white men—also people tend to cluster around similar job and