IZA DP No. 2135: Are New Work Practices and New Technologies Biased against Immigrant Workers?
New technologies and new work practices have been introduced and implemented over a broad range in the production process in most advanced industrialised countries during the last two decades. New work organisation practices like team organisation and job rotation require interpersonal communication to a larger extent compared to the traditional assembly line types of production. In addition to handling the formal language, communication in this respect includes country-specific skills related to understanding social and cultural codes, unwritten rules, implicit communication, norms etc. In this paper we analyse whether these developments – by increasing the importance of communication and informal human capital – have had a negative effect on employment opportunities of immigrants. The results show that firms that use PCs intensively and firms that give their employees broad autonomy employ fewer non-Western immigrants who have not been raised in Norway (i.e. arrived as adults). Furthermore, the negative relationships are especially strong for low-skilled non-Western immigrants. These results may add support to the hypothesis stating that new technologies and (some) new work practices are biased against non-Western immigrant workers, and especially those with low formal skills.