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Project Details
Project Team 1st phase
Project Team 2nd phase
pix The European Works Council: A Transnational Organization?
Typology, Negotiation Results and Context Conditions of European Works Councils in Selected Companies in the European Automotive Industry
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Project Details

pix pix Questions & aims

Starting Point

While there is a broad literature on the emergence of international companies as transnational actors, research on European Works Councils (EWCs) in this respect can be considered to be a desideratum in social science research.

Based on a concept and typology of international organizations the research project analyses the development of EWCs as global, focal, multinational or transnational non-profit organizations working in and addressing profit-organizations.

Main Question

Can EWCs be conceptualised as extensions and stabilizers of interests of nationally oriented actors of dominant production locations? Or do they have the potential to develop into genuinely European institutions or transnational networks?

Project Aims

The aims of research are, firstly, to work out a typology of EWCs along two axes: the degree of co-ordination (weak or strong) and internal distribution (centralized or decentralized) and, secondly, to identify the formation, development and potential of EWCs, as types of genuine European and transnational organizations, from the perspective of the sociology of organizations.

The research project pursues a double strategy: from a structural perspective the focus will be on the analysis of the structural conditions that facilitate the development and the stability of this distinct type of EWC and from a process perspective the question is what are the outcomes of negotiations and how have decisions within EWCs been taken in respect to the safeguarding of jobs and working conditions. EWCs are seen as embedded in a network of relationships that includes managements, employee representatives, trade unions and workforces in locations in different countries.

pix pix The project's guiding questions

  • What explanatory value can be ascribed to the typology: global, focal, multinational and transnational organizations for the selected companies and/or their European Works Councils?

  • Is the emergence of a transnational type of EWC, marked by the combination of decentralized distribution of resources, knowledge, culture and interests on the one hand and a strong coordination on the other empirically verifiable?

  • How stable are transnational EWC configurations in a long-term perspective in comparison to the other ideal types?

  • Which conditions support or weaken the emergence and stability of these 4 ideal types?

  • Can a relationship be detected between the results of negotiations in respect to the safeguarding of jobs and the regulation of working conditions (working time) and the type of EWC?

pix pix Methods

The research program of the EWCs-project contains qualitative case studies (analysis of documents and expert interviews) in internationally active companies: six enterprises of the automotive industry. The interviews will be conducted in five European countries: Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain and Poland. In order to broaden the basis for this project, a co-operation network with social science institutes in these five countries will be established. In addition to interviewing the core actors (European Works Councillors and management), the research program contains interviews with experts in different fields (academics, unions and associations).

pix pix Selected bibliography:

Hertwig, Markus / Pries, Ludger / Rampeltsham-mer (Eds.) (2009): European Works Councils in complementary perspectives. Brüssel: ETUI

Hertwig, Markus / Pries, Ludger / Rampeltsham-mer (2009): Stabilizing effects of cross-border insti-tutions the case of the european works councils. Paper for the 17th GERPISA conference, Paris 2009

Hauser-Ditz, Axel/ Hertwig, Markus/ Pries, Lud-ger (2008): Betriebliche Interessenregulierung in Deutschland. Arbeitnehmerbeteiligung zwischen demokratischer Teilhabe und ökonomischer Effi-zienz. Frankfurt/M.; New York: Campus Verlag

Abel, Jörg / Ittermann, Peter (2003): Exploring the Boundaries of Co-determination. In: Walther Müller-Jentsch/Hansjoerg Weitbrecht (eds.), The Changing Contours of German Industrial Relations, München/Mering, pp.103-118.

Pries, Ludger / Hertwig, Markus (Hg.) (2005): Deutsche Autoproduktion im globalen Wandel. Altindustrie im Rückwärtsgang oder Hightech-Branche mit Zukunft? Berlin: Sigma.

Pries, Ludger (2003): Volkswagen in the 1990s: Accelerating from a Multinational to a Transnational Automobile Company. In: Freyssenet, Michel/ Shimizu, Koichi/ Volpato, Giuseppe (ed.), Globalization or Regionalization of the European Car Industry? Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 51-72.

Abel, Jörg/Pries, Ludger (2007): Shifting patterns of labor regulation: Highly qualified knowledge workers in German new media companies. In: Critical Sociology, Vol. 33, 101-125

Hauser-Ditz, Axel/ Hertwig, Markus/ Pries, Ludger (2006): Betriebsräte und "Andere Vertretungsorgane" Verbreitung und Kontext betrieblicher Beschäftigtenvertretungen in der deutschen Privatwirtschaft. In: Industrielle Beziehungen, Jg. 13, Nr. 4, S. 340-369

Pries, Ludger (2006): Cost competition or innovation competition? Lessons from the case of the BMW plant location in Leipzig, Germany. In: Transfer (Brussels), Vol. 12, No.1, S. 11-29

Pries, Ludger (2006): German Automobile Companies in the Americas: From passive local market suppliers to strong global players. In: Cardoso, Adalberto/Covarrubias, Alex (eds.), A indústria automobilística nas Américas: a reconfiguração estratégica e social dos atores produtivos. Belo Horizonte/Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFMG/IUPERJ, p. 219-24

pix pix Project period

The project started on March 1st 2007 and expires on May 31st 2010.

pix pix Financed by
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

German Research Foundation

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Letzte Änderung: 27.03.2007 | Ansprechpartner/in: Inhalt & Technik