Dec 2013 Theme 1

Theme 1 - Management & Employees
The specific scientific objectives of this theme are to examine Multi-National Corporation (MNC) HR strategies in the context of the current economic crisis and to understand the form and character of worker representation with a view to disseminating best practice. Theme 1 is researching on the representations of employees in relation to labor rationalization, and to new management and trade union agendas. A special focus of the research lies on employment relations in MNCs in the European Union. We look at Industrial relations as social interactions between players who hold different resources: labor and management are always constraint by institutional environments but at the same time reproducing and interpreting these institutions in a process of constant adjustment and change. Multi-level bargaining arenas are constituted by internal (managements, work councils) and external actors (employers’ associations, trade unions, governments, suppliers, consultants), in specific regional and temporal contexts.

ESR1 and ESR2 are examining the global, national and local dynamics of social and institutional governance of the employer-employee relationship against the background of the global crisis and restructuring strategies of firms. ESR4 studies the changes in workers’ identity and behavior in reaction to changes in management practices during the crisis.

We all focus in specific sectors in order to compare later between different countries the same sectors. ESR4 will analyze how, in the context of new management paradigms spreading across Europe, the concept of individual autonomy is understood.

All the projects are studding current situation in a global perspective, which means taking into account structural agents (institutions, social bargaining- industrial relations, trade unions, European policy, etc.) and actors. Macro and Micro perspectives interact and we need to understand these two levels in order to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon under study. There is an interaction between structure and actors. Agreements implemented in a national-European level are finally are experienced by actors, so all ESR in theme 1 have this multi-level approach. The research in Theme 1 has a clear actor focus, looking at employment relations and working lives from the perspective of managers and employees who are involved in labour relations in their various forms.

We are studding European countries, through a cross-national analysis. We aim to understand Management paradigms of each country we study, and argue that work practice and employee experiences will be different depending each management paradigm. We refer to paradigm when trying to understand the nature of management practices, we figure different realities: for instance, depending on the country analysed, we find different culture basis and different industrial relations, depending on how strong are Trade Union representation, consciousness, history, political regimes, etc.

The members of theme 1 (management and employees) have undertaken pilot-studies in the form of in-depth interviews with managers and workers in different EU-countries. The interviews have been about the changing nature of working life and industrial relations in times of crisis. Data will comprise employee narratives of experience and interpretation of workplace changes. All PhD students in this theme are undertaking immersion experiences in employer/union partnerships.
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