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Cranfield School of Management (UK), Center for Strategic Trade Union Management
This project links two critical issues in the debates about work being conducted at the European Union, British government and practitioner levels, as well as in the academic community.
These concern, first, the incidence of alternatives (often in the UK termed „flexible“ employment) to the ‘usual’ long-term, full-time employment pattern in the world of work, and, second, the appropriate forms of employee representation which will both ensure that workers’ interests are taken into account and that their contribution to the organisation is maximised. Both issues have generated considerable policy activity and extensive research. The two centres involved in this proposal have made a strong contribution to this research programme by carrying out several relevant projects in both fields. The relationship between the two issues is acknowledged, but only poorly understood. Thus, for example, the regulations on the applicability of European Works Councils assume that for each organisation it is clear who counts as an employee and that there are no grey areas such as the employment of temporary or part-time workers. Likewise, the effect of unemployment on trade union memberships is clear, but the impact of flexible employment may be greater. Our current work shows that there are often distinctly different approaches to such workers from central and local union officers.
This project aims to explore the relationship between these two issues and the effect of that relationship on practice. In detail, this means:
- Produce new data on the incidence of flexible working across different types of organisation in the two countries;
- Produce new data on changing employee perceptions of new forms of work, and how they impact on their commitment to organisations and expectations of trade union representation;
- Examine the reactions of trade unions at all levels to different forms of flexible working;
- Examine the views of managers on optimal forms of employee representation;
- Explore the ways in which theoretic and practical rationales for employee representation are affected by new patterns of work;
- whether new forms of representational structures are required in both national cases and what adaptations to current arrangements are needed.
The current situation will be investigated by collecting both qualitative and quantitative data by a variety of methods.
Stage 1 of the research will be concerned with setting a comparative framework. The framework will be set by two means: use of existing secondary literature (see for example Lehndorff, 1998) and use of the existing international Cranet survey conducted in 1998/9 and for which the results will be available for the first time during the life of this project. The survey covers, at the level appropriate to a broad-ranging, international survey, issues of the industrial location, extent and change in flexible working. The first step will allow the identification of national structural characteristics of the legislative, labour market and other factors exogenous to the enterprise which are relevant to the adoption and implementation of different modes of flexible working. The second will position and locate case studies; the value of doing this in a national and international survey is to confirm typicality within nations, sizes and sectors (see e.g. Mayne et al 1996; Brewster et al 1997) and methods of representation (see Morley et al 1996).
Stage 2 of the research will involve the selection and investigation of a number of establishment-level case studies. The criteria for case study selection depend to some extent on the outcomes of the initial phase of research. However, it is intended to select some six cases in each country to comprise three ‘pairs’ comparable in terms of sector, size and representative of different types of employee representation in order to develop internal as well as external comparisons in both national cases. The second stage of the research constitutes the project’s core. Recurrent focus groups will be used in the case study organisations. The method is chosen because of its effectiveness in involving respondents and in evoking detailed reaction to developments. These groups will be held involving managers and employees both jointly and separately, in order to allow employees to discuss what they might regard as matters which they do not wish to raise with their managers present. Other methods of obtaining spontaneous employee perceptions in less formal settings will also be explored in each case, in view of the issue’s significance to the study. Trade union representatives will also be interviewed separately and on a recurrent basis. ‘Critical Incident’ techniques will be used, to isolate instances in which representational arrangements have worked well or badly.
- Nick Kratzer 089 / 27 29 21 - 0 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Döhl, Volker
12/1999 bis 11/2001
funded by Anglo German Foundation - Deutsch-Britische Stiftung