Governance in European industrial relations

Since 2005, Eurofound has been carrying out research projects looking at the new forms of governance on the European industrial relations scene.

Over the last decade, governance has become an increasingly important concept with many different meanings, used both in political discourse and in academic disciplines, such as political science, law, sociology and economics.

The concept of governance is based on a recognition that the state is not the sole authoritative source of regulation, and stresses the multiple interactions between public structures, economic actors and civil society.

'Governance is thus different from government, the latter stressing hierarchical decision-making structures and the centrality of public actors, while the former denotes the participation of public and private actors, as well as non-hierarchical forms of decision-making (Kohler-Koch and Rittberger, 2006).'

Eurofound projects' cycle focused on new forms of governance in European industrial relations at the following levels.

Interprofessional level

  • The impact of new forms of governance on the European industrial relations actors: European institutions, governments and European social partners

Two workshops (in December 2005 and March 2006 in Brussels) brought together experts and social partners. A small survey, based on telephone interviews with stakeholders and academics, was also carried out in early 2006.

The results of the workshops and survey are presented in the report New structures, forms and processes of governance in European industrial relations.

Company level

  • The impact of codes of conduct and international framework agreements on the micro-level of social dialogue

Case study research into companies which introduced codes of conduct unilaterally or negotiated international framework agreements with trade unions was carried out early in 2007. Experts and social partners discussed research findings and draft analytical report at two workshops (December 2006 in Brussels and 15-16 April 2007 in Rome).

The results of the analysis of relevant academic literature and case studies of good practice are presented in the report Codes of conduct and International framework agreements: new forms of governance at company level.

  • International framework agreements: a stepping stone towards the internationalisation of industrial relations?

One of the factors which were identified in previous research as a driving force of new developments of industrial relations at transnational level is international framework agreement. This research project aims at a mapping and an in-depth analysis of the existing international framework agreements. An initial workshop with experts and social partners took place in December 2007 in Brussels. Research findings and a draft analytical report will be discussed in a second workshop on 28-29 April 2008 in Rome.

Sectoral level

  • Dynamics of sectoral social dialogue

The objective of this research project is to describe, analyse and assess the European sectoral social dialogue as a new form of governance of EU level industrial relations in particular with regard to a better understanding of the dynamics at play in the sectors and in their corresponding committees. A first workshop with experts and social partners was held in December 2007 in Brussels. Research findings and a draft analytical report will be discussed in a second workshop on 22 May 2008 in Brussels.

 

For further information on Eurofound projects on governance or related issues please contact  Christian Welz, research manager.