Pursuing the innovation economy : implications for startup labour

Rose, Emily (2023) Pursuing the innovation economy : implications for startup labour. Industrial Law Journal, 52 (4). pp. 839-865. ISSN 0305-9332 (https://doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dwad002)

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This article considers how the UK and Scottish governments’ policy push to promote the innovation economy affects labour. It applies a regulatory approach to consider the issue, focusing specifically on the co-ordinated efforts of government, universities and the private sector to promote and support technology startups. Data is drawn from an empirical case study of the digital technology sector in Scotland. My analysis is 2-fold. First, I demonstrate how the performance of this regulation constitutes people as startup employees. It does this by increasing the quantitative supply of labour, but also by shaping the qualitative features of that supply. The practices of government, universities and the private sector give rise to particular norms within the startup community that shape the way that startups operate as well as startup actors’ knowledge, values and general sense of how things should be done in the sector. Second, I examine how labour law interacts with these newly situated employees. I focus on the legally structured relation of subordination of employees to employers and argue that the norms the multi-actor regulatory effort promotes within the startup community have direct bearing on how this manifests in the sector.