Hear From Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew

An Early Look at a Time of Increased Worklessness

By Brittany Haynes on Apr 6, 2020

Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew’s forthcoming edited publication is Maintaining Social Well-Being and Meaningful Work in a Highly Automated Job Market, and it explores how the world will re-shape as one with less demand for human labor given adoption of various technologies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). It also explores how to balance how people engage as part-workers and as consumers of others’ creations in order to reshape markets and work.  At the heart of this work is the exploration of how to keep the person at the center of these mass-scale changes, in terms of social well-being, positive psychological capital, and human capital. Dr. Hai-Jew shares how her research further advances her field of expertise as well as how the current COVID-19 pandemic is impacting her research and the job market in the IGI Global interview below.

How is Maintaining Social Well-Being and Meaningful Work in a Highly Automated Job Market (IGI Global 2020) relevant to the present moment? 

It is too often possible to think of the future in some hazy distance when in fact it’s arriving at every moment, in the experienced now. 

Not to be dark or ironic, but the novel coronavirus pandemic (SARS-CoV-2) has effectively resulted in much less available work. The increased worklessness is not due to automation (or AI). Rather, the disappearance of jobs is based on the need for “social distancing,” the reducing of densities of people, so that the human-to-human spread is reduced (along with known and unknown attendant harms). There are cascading effects. This means that those working in the service industries are without recourse and losing their jobs to the tune of tens of thousands in the USA, and this has occurred elsewhere, too.  Those working in theaters have lost their jobs, and those who perform to live audiences have lost their jobs, etc.  Those in “non-essential” healthcare are also sidelined because elective surgeries are optional. 

Those who have retained jobs are working from home (under home-quarantine or self-quarantine in many cases) because offices are closed to workers until the respective political leaders can decide how to move forward.  Here, people are going virtual. Other jobs are coming online. People in healthcare are being called out of retirement. Some in manufacturing are being hired to produce healthcare equipment. Some online retailers are adding jobs. There is a fair amount of churn. 

Interestingly, with all these changes, it feels like there has been a collective breath let out, even as other work has come to the forefront and even as there is a sense of collective dread and desperation in this present moment. 

Maintaining Social Well-Being and Meaningful Work in a Highly Automated Job Market has creative ideas on job creation, human activities (to complement traditional jobs), ways to restructure at a macro level to enable more jobs, ways to live with less work, and other approaches. A core assumption in this book is that work is important to people beyond survival needs because of its implications on self-identity, self-efficacy, emotional well-being, and other factors. 

Why did you identify “social well-being” and “meaningful work” as particularly important in the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)? 

Human history is thought of has having had three prior industrial revolutions, based on technological advancements: steam engine, mass production, and digital technology. 4IR is based on the integrated advances in the digital (quantum computing, cloud computing, mobile devices, robotics, AI, big data, and others), the physical (3D printing), and the biological (genetic engineering), and others. This is the cyber-physical-biological confluence. With so much disruption, visible and invisible (and some purposively hidden so as not to cause distress), considering how people will adapt is important. For many, our social lives revolve around those we know from work. Further, work is central to people’s identities and sense of self-worth in many societies. 

This 4IR challenge is a sufficiently global one, and there are needed adjustments at the micro, meso, and macro levels. At the micro, we can all work on having an adaptive skillset, optimally in the cutting-edge fields. We can work on having a more diversified life, with other meaning-making activities. We can work on hobbies and non-work activities. Business owners can set up to adapt. Governments can work some of the macro-level levers. And so on. This issue has been in discussion for many years, even prior to Klaus Schwab’s book The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2016, initially in German). 

Are there actual solutions that can make a difference in reality? 

There are some thinkers who suggest that corporations will adapt, societies will adapt, and each generation will make changes as needed. They suggest that the concerns are overblown. I hope they’re right. That said, I am a bit of a planner, and I think it’s good to have plans in place to address all potential eventualities – that “hope for the best but plan for the worst” approach to the world.  Personally, I am a “workaholic,” and really enjoy putting in long days and working over the weekend. This is not a forever thing, but I am hoping to do so for the next several decades. 

About solutions, the year spent on this edited book helped me abstract my thinking about systems.  Government has the power to incentivize its citizenry. It has a “bully pulpit” to speak broadly. It has a (digital) “money printing” role in times of crisis, to protect systems and provide for citizens, and it has taxation capabilities (to pay for its spending). Governments can rise to the needs of the times, with varying degrees. All policies have winners and losers, as truism goes. 

The respective authors to this collection showed me practical and applied ways to expand the workspace for people, the sense of self-worth for people, and other insights. Prof. Maureen Ebben, in chapter one of my publication, “Automation and Augmentation: Human Labor as Essential Complement to Machines,” shows an optimistic sense of humans and technologies “in it together.”  Profs. Anton Nemme, Berto Pandolfo, Roderick Walden, and Stefan Lie in chapter two, “A Product System for Meaningful Work, Rehabilitation, and Social Well-Being in Correction Contexts,” show an expansion of work possibilities. Prof. Laura Russell, in chapter five, “Pervasive Technologies and Addiction:  How Workaholics Construct Boundaries for Recovery in a Digital Era,” focuses on human well-being in an environment with numerous temptations of work. Furthermore, Prof. Olcay Okun’s chapter six, “The Positive Face of Human Capital, Psychological Capital, and Well-Being,” brings together the respective elements to suggest a possible balance and even harmony. Additionally, there are other works with variant perspectives and foci. 

It does look possible for people to reorient themselves to new “normals,” and that is important for humanity to survive, move on, and thrive. 

Do you have any advice for researchers and other readers of your publication moving forward in the 4IR? 

There is a saying about life – that we take it as it comes – and I think that makes sense here. We can look at what’s on the horizon and plan and do our best to adapt as the changes come. The 4IR changes are so dynamic and large-scale, and it’s near impossible to say with certainty about where things will be even in a year or two. Those I know who work on such issues create a set of potentialities for the possible futures. Locking in to any one sense of the world is limiting, as it might contribute to a risky myopic sense of the world. 

I like how researchers use a variety of rich research approaches. I also like how many are willing to think differently and to take risks. 

Finally, it’s a peculiarity that the future that arrives – even now – is never wholly unfamiliar. There are still rules at play and some types of predictivity. There are some paths that seem more traversable and likely to succeed than others.  In these topsy-turvy times, when so much is at stake, people understandably flock to stability when the answer may be a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar.  This book plays with that duality of the known and the unknown and suggests some small adjustments that may help in the adaptivity to the new. 

Available in print and electronic format, Maintaining Social Well-Being and Meaningful Work in a Highly Automated Job Market can be ordered with an automatic 20% discount off the list price when purchasing the publication directly through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore. Additionally, this publication is available across preferred providers such as GOBI Library Solutions, EBSCOHost, Oasis, and Ebook Central (Note: The automatic 20% discount is only available through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore), as well as IGI Global’s InfoSci-Books (5,300+ e-books) database.

Visit the publication’s webpage to order, or contact Customer Service at cust@igi-global.com or 717-533-8845 ext. 100 with questions. For researchers, be sure to recommend this publication or the InfoSci-Books database to your library to have access to this critical content.

IGI Global would like to thank Prof. Dr. Hai-Jew for sharing her research on the automated job market and well-being of workers. For more information about this research, view the publication here.

About Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew: Dr. Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University (K-State). She has taught at the university and college levels for many years (including four years in the People’s Republic of China) and was tenured at Shoreline Community College but left tenure to pursue instructional design work. She has Bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology, a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington (where she was a Hugh Paradise Scholar), and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a focus on public administration from Seattle University (where she was a Morford Scholar). She reviews for a number of academic publications and publishers and is the editor of several IGI Global titles. Dr. Hai-Jew was born in Huntsville, Alabama, in the USA.

For your reference, find below a sample of related titles within automation, the workplace, and well-being, which are also featured in IGI Global’s award-winning InfoSci-Books database and are available for purchase in print and electronic format. Be sure to recommend these titles to your librarian, to ensure your institution can acquire the most emerging research.

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Organizational Leadership for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Emerging Research and Opportunities
Prof. Peter A.C. Smith (The Leadership Alliance Inc., Canada) and Prof. John Pourdehnad (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 125 | ISBN: 9781522553908 | EISBN: 9781522553915

This publication provides the latest research on the approaches to dealing successfully with newly emerging digital technologies and the dynamic complexity leaders are facing now and in the future. While highlighting topics such as business architecture, interactive planning, and strategic capital, this book explores the implications of technologies on business and leadership as well as the development of leadership methods and applications. This book is an important resource for professionals, practitioners, upper-level students, and managers seeking current research on leadership and business advancement in the digital era.

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Research Anthology on Social Issues in the Workplace: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice (2 Volumes)
Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Executive Editor of IGI Global, USA)

Copyright: © 2018 | Pages: 986 | ISBN: 9781522539179 | EISBN: 9781522539186

This publication is a comprehensive reference source for the latest scholarly material on the components and impacts of social issues on the workplace. Highlighting a range of pertinent topics such as business communication, psychological health, and work-life balance, this multi-volume book is ideally designed for managers, professionals, researchers, students, and academics interested in social issues in the workplace.

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Strategic Imperatives and Core Competencies in the Era of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Prof. Roman Batko (Jagiellonian University, Poland) and Prof. Anna Szopa (Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Copyright: © 2017 | Pages: 302 | ISBN: 9781522516569 | EISBN: 9781522516576

This publication focuses on contemporary organizations and their use of new competencies. Featuring coverage on new skill identification and best practices for management, this book is essential for professionals, administrators, researchers, and students seeking current research on the latest developments in technological applications in the workplace.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.

About IGI Global:  Founded in 1988, IGI Global, an international academic publisher, is committed to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing processes. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 100,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. To learn more about IGI Global, click here.

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