Congratulations, Jen Harmer and Kourtney Koebel!

June 24, 2021 by Anonymous

Congratulations, Jennifer Harmer and Kourtney Koebel, who have each been awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship!

Jen’s research documents Canadian unions from the perspective of their internal human resource management (HRM) practices. It’s part of an international effort to explore the internal management of these organizations.

The granddaughter of a Hamilton steelworker, Jen has been a proud member of several unions. “Our field,” she notes, “Enables me to pursue my research interests in both management and unions.”

Considering whether HRM can help deliver organizational outcomes for unions like membership expansion, Jen’s research tests the universal nature of HRM practices. It can help contribute to a better picture of how Canadian unions operate and could also be used to inform the development of best practices and tools to support the internal personnel practices of these important organizations.

“In the early days of this research project, I organized exploratory meetings with representatives from union head offices. I was inspired by the dedication of these individuals to their organizations as well as their interest to be a part of this research project. In the next few months union head offices will receive an invitation to participate in this research project along with a questionnaire.”

She says she is “grateful for this research support” and “honoured to be a part of the CIRHR community and draw energy from our brilliant PhD students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

“I hope the CIRHR community involved in unions will encourage their organizations to participate in the upcoming survey!”

Kourtney’s research aims to provide policymakers with new ideas and rigorous empirical evidence to address poverty and gender inequality in the labour market. Her work explores theoretical trade-offs between labour and social policies that are targeted toward low-income and female workers, and their work outcomes, like labour supply decisions and income levels.

Kourtney’s dissertation focuses on “factors that policymakers could manipulate to improve female labour market participation and reduce gender wage gaps.”

“We know from recent research that male-female gaps in employment and earnings are largely due to the ‘child penalty.’ As such, my thesis focuses on women with children and how particular policies (or their absence) shapes their ability to work in the formal labour market.”

Another focus of Kourtney’s research is developing proposals for a national, targeted guaranteed basic income (GBI) in Canada. This has included outlining the challenges associated with implementing a GBI that respects the constitutional responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments (with Dr. Robin Boadway and Dr. Katherine Cuff) and a proposal for merging a conventional GBI with an earnings subsidy to create one harmonious program that facilitates attachment to the labour market and rewards workers (with Dr. Dionne Pohler).

Over the last year, Kourtney has also been contributing to the growing literature on the labour market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. An article with Dr. Pohler shows a double liability of low-wage work: while low-wage workers experienced larger reductions in hours worked, many low-wage workers who stayed employed actually worked more than normal during the pandemic, resulting in a relatively higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. A recent article with Dr. Pohler, Dr. Rafael Gomez and Akshay Mohan discussed the efficiency-equity-voice trade-offs of actual—CERB—and proposed—targeted basic income —pandemic income support policies. Finally, a policy paper with Dr. Lindsay Tedds and John Baker shows that in Alberta there were no statistically significant differences in the labour market outcomes of men and women in the second wave—but there were significant differences in labour market outcomes between parents and non-parents irrespective of gender.

Congratulations, Jen and Kourtney!