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Peter Berg - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Peter Berg

Professor | Michigan State University


International expert on Collective Bargaining and the Aging Workforce


An international expert in collective bargaining as well as work-family policies and practices. Research focus is on management practices related to the aging workforce as well as emerging employment relations practices and work-family flexibility in the United States and around the world.

Areas of Expertise (4)

Work-Family Flexibility Policy

Domestic and International Labor Policy

Collective Bargaining

Aging Workforce

Accomplishments (1)

Fulbright Senior Scholar Award

2006 Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Research award, University of Sydney in Australia.

Education (2)

University of Notre Dame: Ph.D., Economics 1993

University of Notre Dame: M.A. 1988

Affiliations (1)

  • 2015-2017 President, Industry Studies Association

News (5)

Workplace vaccine mandates reveal a divide among workers

The New York Times  online


The tide has begun to turn on corporate vaccine mandates, with large employers including the Walt Disney Company, Facebook, Google and Walmart introducing stricter requirements for employees returning to the workplace. “For Walmart, they have to weigh, I think, which is a real concern about turnover, what the reputation would be to the frontline workers, against the value that they could parlay this into saying, ‘We're a leader in public health now as a big employer,'” said Peter Berg, a professor of employment relations at Michigan State University. “From Walmart's calculus, they may say, ‘Well, it's really not going to benefit us that much as an organization to do this,'” he added.

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Generation work-from-home may never recover

The Atlantic  online


The social by-products of going to work aren't found only in shared projects or mentoring—many are baked into the physical spaces we inhabit. Break rooms, communal kitchens, and even well-trafficked hallways help create what experts call functional inconvenience. “We have these interdisciplinary connections because people have to take the stairs, or the bathroom is on a different floor,” says Peter Berg, the director of the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. “Moving through that space in an inconvenient way is really important to connection.”

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Working Well With Colleagues of All Ages

U.S. World and News Report  


"Older workers hold a great deal of knowledge and skill," says Peter Berg, associate director of the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. "They know about processes."...

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No retirement in sight: 5 reasons people are working longer in Ohio

Dayon Daily News  


Peter Berg of Michigan State University said management practices help companies retain productive employees. Berg said the U.S. can learn from different workplace strategies employed in other countries. In Germany, employees are able to tap more flexible work schedules than in the U.S. and are given income and savings incentives to gradually leave the workforce over several years...

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Labor Unions Can Influence Flextime

MSU Today  


The findings, published in the research journal ILR Review, counter critics’ claims that unions no longer are relevant, said Peter Berg, professor in MSU’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations. Union membership in the United States has fallen to about 11 percent from 20 percent in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “In the past, unions have been a force for raising wage and benefit standards, but today unions are under attack,” Berg said. “Can unions still play a role? Can they help accommodate people’s increasing preferences for greater flexibility on the job? This study shows, to some degree, that they can.”...

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Research Grants (2)

Changes in Pensionable Ages and their Effect on Establishments

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 

2016 Principal Investigator

The influence of the employment environment on working longer: New evidence from the LIAB

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 

2011 Principal Investigator

Journal Articles (3)

Flexible careers across the life course: Advancing theory, research and practice

Human Relations

Jennifer Tomlinson, Marian Baird, Peter Berg, Rae Cooper

2018 This introductory article sets out a framework for conceptualizing flexible careers. We focus on the conditions, including the institutional arrangements and the organizational policies and practices, that can support individuals to construct flexible and sustainable careers across the life course. We ask: What are flexible careers? Who are the (multiple) actors determining flexible careers? How do institutions and organizational settings impact upon and shape the career decisions and agency of individuals across the life course? We begin our review by providing a critique of career theory, notably the boundaryless and protean career concepts, which are overly agentic. In contrast, we stress the importance of institutions, notably education and training systems, welfare regimes, worker voice, working-time and leave regulations and retirement systems alongside individual agency. We also emphasize the importance of various organizational actors in determining flexible careers, particularly in relation to flexible work policies, organizational practices, culture and managerial agency. Finally we argue for the importance of a life course framing taking into account key transition points and life stages, which vary in sequence and significance, in the analysis of flexible careers. In concluding remarks, we urge researchers to use and refine our model to the concept of flexible careers conceptually and empirically.

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Negotiating Flexibility: External Contracting and Working Time Control in German and Danish Telecommunications Firms

ILR Review

Virginia Doellgast, Peter Berg

2018 This study examines how different participation rights and structures affect employee control over working time. The analysis is based on a comparison of matched call center and technician workplaces in two major telecommunications firms in Germany and Denmark. It draws on data from semi-structured interviews with managers, supervisors, and employee representatives between 2010 and 2016. Unions and works councils in both firms agreed to a series of concessions on working time policies in the early 2010s in exchange for agreements to halt or reverse outsourcing. The authors use Lukes’ concepts of decision-making and agenda-setting power to explain these common trends, as well as later divergence in outcomes. Germany’s stronger formal co-determination rights over working time proved a critical power resource for employee representatives as they sought to re-establish employee control in new, more flexible working time models.

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The relationship between employer‐provided training and the retention of older workers: Evidence from Germany

ILR Review

Peter B Berg, Mary K Hamman, Matthew M Piszczek, Christopher J Ruhm

2017 A substantial portion of Germany's workforce will soon retire, making it difficult for businesses to meet their human capital needs; training older workers may help to manage this demographic transition. The authors therefore examine the relationships between employer‐provided training programmes, wages and retirement among older workers. They find that when establishments offer special training programmes targeted at these workers, women – especially low‐paid women – are less likely to retire, possibly because of consequent wage growth. Their results suggest that such targeted training can indeed play an important role in retaining low‐wage older women and advancing their careers.

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