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Project Number: p05-09s

The Business of Employing People with Disabilities: Four Case Studies

Principal Investigators: Allen Heinemann and Alexander Boni-Saenz

Project Type: Small Grant

Project Year: 05

Thematic Category: Transition to Work

Project Summary:

The retirement of the baby-boom generation presents society with many challenges, including projected labor supply shortages in certain professions. Recently, emphasis has been placed on examining ways to harness the productive capability of those populations that historically have been excluded or underemployed. The unemployment rate among people with disabilities hovers somewhere around 70%. There are many reasons for this; however, one of the most prominent is the belief that there are significant economic costs to employing people with disabilities, without requisite benefits in terms of productivity. Research in the economics of disability and employment has focused on analyses of income support, health insurance, and accommodations at the level of the labor market. There is a gap in academic research on decision-making processes of employers of people with disabilities. There is an equivalent lack of integration of disability issues in business case studies. Through analysis of in-depth interviews and documentary evidence of four firms (Sears, Aon, Data Armor, and Arrow Messenger), this project will delineate strategies that work for successful employment of people with disabilities. The particular focus is on managing the economic costs and benefits of hiring disabled workers. Four business cases of firms and an academic multi-case study report will be produced. The business cases will focus on the strategies for hiring and maintaining people with disabilities. These will be put to use in the classroom at the Kellogg School of Management and other business schools to integrate issues of disability and employment into the curriculum. The multi-case analysis will serve as a more academic analysis of cases, examining the strategies of these firms, comparing them and generating themes and theories about which employment strategies work best and why. These cases and academic analysis will lay the foundation for the education of future business leaders and generation of theories for testing with alternative research designs.

Project Deliverables:

Final Report (Word file Word file - 164k)