Austria: Role of social dialogue in industrial policies

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 02 Rugsėjis 2014



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Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The social partners play a very important role in industrial policies in Austria. They are involved in the process of formulating a large variety of industrial policy interventions at the national level (mostly cross-sector interventions) and to a lesser degree also at the regional and local levels. Furthermore, they are active at the sectoral level (mostly industry-specific interventions), as well. The involvement takes the form of informal cooperation and is not mandatory. There are no statutory bodies or committees, but social partner consultation in Austria in general is based on a practice of permanent, but informal cooperation rather than on legal regulations. This also applies to their involvement in industrial policies.

Part 1: Overall role and involvement of social partners in industrial policy in the national context

Industrial policy is in this context used in its broader sense as…

those policies that have an impact on the cost, price and innovative competitiveness of industry and individual sectors, such as standardisation or innovation policies, or sectoral policies targeting e.g. the innovation performance of individual sectors.

The policy instruments are then defined as the method or mechanism used by government, political parties, business or individuals to achieve a desired effect, through legal or economic means.

Industrial policy initiatives are often undertaken unilaterally by the government but other forms may include social partners in different constellations, including:

  • bipartite initiative (a common approach by the social partners);
  • tripartite initiative (the social partners in tandem with the public authorities);
  • tripartite+ initiative (the three stakeholders in combination sometimes with other civil society players such as NGOs, research centres or qualified figures);
  • public-private partnership initiatives (one social partner and the public authorities); and
  • unilateral initiatives by a single social partner

1. Is there in your country currently a policy framework to stimulate investments that both create economic growth and employment? Tick Yes/No

Table 1

Policy framework

Yes

No

Economic growth

   

Employment

   

Both economic growth and employment

x

 

Competitiveness

x

 

2. Is there evidence in your country of involvement of social partners in the process of formulating industrial policy interventions? If yes, please indicate which types of involvement:

Table 2

Type of social partner involvement:

… in the formulation of horizontal (cross-sector) interventions

… in the formulation of vertical (sector-, industry- or company-specific) interventions

Sector-specific involvement

No

Yes

Cross-sector involvement

Yes

No

Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership?

Please indicate which, if any, of these types apply:

Tripartite

Bipartite

Unilateral

Please indicate which, if any, of these types apply:

Tripartite

Bipartite

Unilateral

3. How have social partners been involved in the industrial policy formulation process?

Table 3
 

Please indicate (X) the extent to which the different types of involvement are used, including whether this involvement is statutory:

Level of government?

Sector focus?

Specific form of social partner involvement:

Statutory/mandatory

Very common/ used in most policy processes but not statutory

Fairly common but not consistently used

Rarely used

Not used at all

National or regional?

Sectoral or cross-sectoral?

Tripartite standing committee

             

Tripartite ad hoc committees

             

High-level groups or other multi-stakeholder committees involving other stakeholders in addition to social partners

             

If multi-stakeholder committees:

.

Hearings

             

Consultations

             

Conferences

             

Other - please specify below:

             

Informal cooperation: Social partner consultation in Austria is based on a practice of permanent, but informal cooperation, rather than on legal regulations

 

x

     

National and provincial (regional)

Sectoral and cross-sectoral

4. Is there evidence in your country of initiatives that follows recommendations and development at EU-level? If yes, please indicate in which sectors:

Yes: cross-sectoral, sectoral (e.g. steel industry)

5. Which types of industrial policy instruments/interventions at different government levels have social partners been involved in? Please indicate degree of involvement

3 = high degree of involvement,

2 = involvement to some extent,

1 = low degree of involvement,

0 = no involvement.

Table

Policy instruments:

National level

Regional level

Local level

Public investment programmes:

     

infrastructure

2-3

2

1

construction

2-3

2-3

1

building renovation

2

2

1

other

     

Innovation programmes

     

Support for R&D

3

2

1

Cluster promotion

2-3

2

0

Export promotion

3

1

1

Internationalisation of SMEs

2

1

1

Improvement of access to finance:

     

loan

3

2

1

loan guarantee programmes

3

2

1

venture capital funding

3

2

0

Other: export financing

2

1

0

Public procurement policies:

     

Tax and duty policies

3

2

1

Adapting the skills base

3

3

2

Subsidies for restructuring/ bail-out of companies in crisis

2

2

2

Social plans in case of restructuring. Training/re-training

3

3

3

Investment incentives

2

2

1

Energy efficiency/ energy shift

2

2

1

Energy supply security

2

2

1

Access to raw materials

2

1

0

Prices of energy and raw materials

2

1

1

Others, please specify below:

     
       

6. Which, if any, positive effect(s) can be related to the involvement of social partners in the industrial policy process in your country?

Table

Positive effects

Tick (X) where applicable

Please comment briefly: How did effect manifest itself?

Speed of policy process

 

Sometimes the involvement contributes to more speediness; sometimes the contrary is the case.

Robustness of policy initiatives

X

There is a wide basis of discussion and a range of players involved which contributes to the robustness and broad acceptance of policy initiatives.

Relevance of policy initiatives

X

There is a wide basis of discussion and a range of players involved who contribute different viewpoints and focal points, which adds to the relevance of policy initiatives.

Dynamism in the policy process

X

Due to the fact that there are several players involved and discussions going on, the policy process is dynamic.

European coordination

X

The social partners are heavily involved in European coordination through their important role in the national policy process and also through their involvement in the European social dialogue (e.g. BUSINESSEUROPE, UNI Europa).

Ownership of policy initiatives

X

Social partners’ ownership of policy initiatives can be seen (as they are partly taken over) in the government’s working programme.

Coherence and coordination of labour market, education, and economic policies

X

The social partners are strongly involved in the coherence and coordination of labour market, education and economic policies; they present proposals on their own (which are often taken over by the government) or are invited by the government to work out proposals on specific subjects.

Stimulating public-private partnerships

   

Others, please specify below:

   
     

7. Which, if any, problems or challenges related to involvement of social partners in the industrial policy process have been encountered in your country?

Table

Problems/challenges:

Tick (X) where applicable

Please comment briefly: How did the problem manifest itself?

Increased bureaucracy

 

Sometimes the involvement of more players may increase the bureaucracy.

Lengthy policy processes

   

Lengthy bargaining processes

   

Dilution (circumvention) of parliamentary democracy

   

Problems of establishing accountability

   

Lack of dynamism in the policy process

   

Lack of culture to involve social partners

   

Others, please specify below:

   
     

8. What, if anything, has been done to address these challenges/problems listed in questions 7? What was the outcome?

The negative effects listed in chapter 7 (more bureaucracy, lengthy policy and bargaining process) are accepted by all players and are not seen as challenges or problems; on the contrary, the strong involvement of the social partners in industrial policy processes by far outweighs these (negative) effects.

Table

Problems/challenges:

Measures undertaken

Effect positive/negative

n/a

n/a

n/a

     

Answers in part 1 are partly based on correspondence (email, phone) with representatives responsible for industrial policy from the national level social partner organisations (Chamber of Labour AK, Austrian Trade Union Federation ÖGB, Federal Economic Chamber WKO, Industrialists’ Federation IV).

Part 2: Description of relevant sector examples of social partner involvement

This section aims to identify examples of policies targeting specific sectors and involving social dialogue. Among the industrial policies treated in the previous section in question 5, please select 2-3 examples which represent significant industrial policies in your country and describe the policy instruments used and the contribution of social partners to the shaping of the policy and the outcome of their involvement.

The selection of examples should be guided by the following criteria:

  • importance of the sector to the national economy;
  • level of government support to the industry; and
  • best practice of social dialogue in the country.

Please provide references to key sources.

Example 1

Name of the instrument:

In national language and English

Kurzarbeit (Short-time working scheme STW)

Sector:

Cross-sectoral

Type of instrument applied:

(use categories from question 5. Some sector policies may apply more than one instrument

Subsidies for restructuring/ bail-out of companies in crisis

Timing:

(Period of implementation of instrument)

Short-time work is a measure that had been in place for decades (it was first introduced in Austria in 1934 and was put in law in 1949) but was an only rarely used labour market policy instrument. With the onset of the crisis, the rules and regulations of the measure were amended. The Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (BMASK) invited the social partners to work out reforms of the measure.

Negotiations started towards the end of 2008/beginning of 2009 and lasted until June 2009

Implementation was July 2009

Operational level

National

Regional

Local

Please tick the government level and/or provide details of geographical implementation area if relevant:

x

   

Funding:

(Please describe the size of the instrument and detail the source(s) of funding, e.g. EU, state budget, levies, stakeholder contributions, etc.).

Short-time work allowance provided by state funding (by the Public Employment Service AMS)

Annual costs since amendment of STW:

2009: € 113,513,000

2010: € 54,873,000

2011: € 6,086,000

2012: € 4,041,000

Target group(s):

(please describe target group in terms of sector/industry, type of company, geographical criteria and/or other relevant characteristics)

Enterprises which had been hit especially hard by the economic and financial crisis (in practice, this concerned especially the automotive and its supplier sectors, even though the measure is open to all sectors); more generally, companies which temporarily encounter economic difficulties due to a decrease in / lack of orders; even though the measure is open towards companies of all sizes, in practice mostly large, industrial enterprises were targeted; it applies to the whole national territory

Rationale/motivation for the instrument:

(please describe the problem that the instrument should address – for instance: market failure, need to increase sector competitiveness, crisis intervention, etc.)

When the global economic and financial crisis hit Austria in full force, especially the export oriented industries faced major economic difficulties due to a decrease in demand and thus a loss in order. In order to retain employment and support companies that came under pressure, the social partners made an agreement on reforming STW in order to make it more attractive to companies. This agreement was then put into law by the government, following tripartite negotiations.

Crisis intervention

Prevention of mass redundancies

Retainment of qualified personnel (instead of dismissing employees first and then hiring and qualifying new personnel after economic recovery)

Policy stage

Please describe stage of involvement of the social actors i.e.

policy preparation (consultation),

policy decision (co-determination? and

policy implementation (fx. by involvement in agencies)

The social partners were heavily involved in the policy preparation and decision, and also in the implementation phase at the individual companies which implemented short-time working schemes.

Objectives of the instrument:

(please describe the objectives and any quantitative targets set for the instrument– e.g.

increased employment by X% in sector Y by 20xx

increase in sector exports by X%

increase in FDI by X%

Prevent mass redundancies, prevent a large increase in unemployment, prevent dequalification of employees (combination of STW and qualification), support enterprises in economic distress

No quantitative targets were set beforehand

Activities and implementation:

(Please give details on the implementation of the intervention)

STW provisions provide for a temporary reduction of normal working hours based on a contractual agreement between the social partners (employer and works council) and are paid for by the AMS. The reduction of working hours must not go below 10% or over 90% of the standard working hours or, in case of part-time work, of the contractually agreed working hours. Employees' wage losses due to reduced working hours are (partly) compensated by means of a short-time allowance (Kurzarbeitsbeihilfe) or a further training allowance (Beihilfe zur Qualifizierung) in case further training is opted for. Provisions for the latter are about 15% higher as extra expenses for qualification are considered.

Reforms to the STW scheme were implemented in the face of the crisis 2009. The first set of reforms was implemented in the framework of the ‘first labour market package’ on 1 February 2009, the second set of reforms was implemented in the framework of the ‘second labour market package’ on 1 July 2009. Further (small) reform steps were implemented on 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013.

Social partner involvement

 

Type of social partner involvement:

(Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership? – cf. qu. 1)

Bipartite and tripartite

Level of involvement of social partners involvement:

European, National, regional, local

Sectoral

National, company level

Specific form of social partner involvement:

(tripartite standing or ad hoc committee, high-level group, hearing, consultation, conferences, etc.? – cf. qu. 2)

Informal but frequent social partner meetings initiated by the BMASK, which specifically asked the social partners to work out a reform of the pre-existing short-time working scheme.

Timing and nature of social partner involvement:

(Please provide more details on the processes that social partners were involved in, their input, the timing, etc.)

As mentioned above, the social partners were specifically asked by the government (BMASK) to work out a reform of the STW scheme. Thus, several bipartite meetings took place in which a common standpoint was often reached. This mutual standpoint was then negotiated in tripartite meetings with government representatives. The negotiations started in late 2008/early 2009 and lasted until June 2009.

Impact of social partner involvement on design and implementation of instrument:

(Please describe how/if the design and/or implementation was affected through the involvement of social partners)

The social partners’ impact on the design and implementation of the instrument was tremendous. Basically, their common standpoint was put into law. Conflicts between the two sides of the social partners had arisen during the negotiations where the labour side could push more of their demands through (i.e. the need for the trade union’s consent in every company where STW was implemented, a stipulation that employees would receive 90% of their former income, irrespective of the reduction in working time and the retainment of a retention period after STW in a company had expired, during which the number of staff had to be kept). One part of the reform that was free of conflict in the negotiations was the combination of STW and further education. This was also put into law by the public authorities.

Other stakeholders involved, if any:

(please name stakeholders and briefly describe their roles)

---

Results and outcomes

 

Outputs/results:

(Please give details of the outputs/results of the intervention; e.g number of jobs created/retained, number of workers upskilled; wage increases, investment increases, increased co-operation between social partners, etc.)

The reformed STW is considered to have contributed to securing employment in companies on a large scale. In 2009, some 66,500 persons made use of the instrument (in 2008, only 8,232 persons made use of it). On average, 32,422 persons were working short-time on any given day 2009 (after 1,151 in 2008).

According to an evaluation study by Bock-Schappelwein et al. (2011), around 6,500 jobs were saved by the measure of STW. According to estimates by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), some 8,400 jobs saved in 2009 can be attributed to STW.

Assessment of effectiveness:

(Please provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention - were the objectives reached? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

There are no evaluation reports on the effectiveness of the measure with the exception of calculations of the number of jobs saved (see above). Generally speaking, the objectives could be met.

The evaluation by Bock-Schappelwein et al. (2011) includes a comparison between the use of STW in Germany and Austria. The authors conclude that the measure was used about five times as much in Germany (adjusted for population and employment size) even though the financial incentives were about the same in both countries. While in Austria about 1.2% of all employees were in STW, the ratio was at 3.9% in Germany. Reasons given by the authors for the differing use in the two countries are the labour market situation, formal requirements, financial framework conditions and experiences with former use of STW models.

Only about 10% of all persons on STW in Austria took advantage of qualification measures. This was below expectations and reasons given are problems with planning and organising further qualification, as well as too little incentives and the lack of an obligation to combine STW and qualification. According to Allinger (2011, based on interviews with social partners), the combination was additionally also not very popular among employers: They often did not have the right training programmes on hand, and were afraid that if demand increased and they received more orders and thus needed their workers to start working full time again, it might be difficult to take them out of the training measures.

Possible explanations for the effectiveness of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of effectiveness achieved, including the contribution of the social partner involvement; e.g. improved bargaining process? Increased dynamism in the policy process? Other explanations?)

Social partnership has been highly institutionalised in Austria and can be considered an outstanding feature of industrial relations in the country. It is based on close and frequent voluntary cooperation between employers, employees and the state.

Thus, the contribution of social partner involvement in questions concerning labour market and social issues is considered normal procedure. When negotiating the amendment of the STW scheme, the social dialogue and thus the social partners’ traditional roles (which is a result of their long standing tradition of cooperation) have been reinforced. Even though the negotiations were somewhat conflict-ridden compared to social partner negotiations at other times, their ties have been intensified as a result of intensive collaboration due to the imminent need to take action and negotiate solutions in the face of the economic crisis. The social partners’ consent-based approach was certainly an asset and acceptance by both organised labour and organised business is reinforced due to the social partners’ participation in the negotiations.

Assessment of efficiency:

Did the outputs/results measure up to the effort/resources invested? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

The measure of STW is considered a rather expensive measure. The costs per person working short-time increased from € 122 in 2008 to € 1,707 in 2009 and € 2,315 in 2010. However, STW can nonetheless be considered a cost-effective measure, due to the fact that an unemployed person would cost as much as three persons working in a STW scheme (see Wirtschaftsblatt, link below).

Possible explanations for the efficiency of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of efficiency, including the contribution of the social partner involvement)

Not only contributes the social partner involvement to a more widespread acceptance of the measure, it is also common practice in Austria to involve the social partners in the policy preparation process. Due to this widespread and frequent practice, the social partner involvement contributes to the efficiency of the instrument.

Sources:

Allinger, B./Flecker, J. (2011): Austrian Austrian Case Study Report: National (social partner) agreement amending the short-time work regulation in view of the crisis, Vienna (national report for the Eurofound project “Social dialogue in times of global economic crisis”)BMASK (2013): Aktive Arbeitsmarktpolitik in Österreich 1994 – 2013, ViennaBock-Schappelwein, J. et al. (2011): Kurzarbeit in Deutschland und Österreich, Studie im Auftrag des AMS, Endbericht, Viennahttp://www.wirtschaftsblatt.at/home/oesterreich/wirtschaftspolitik/kurzarbeit-in-oesterreich-steigt-dramatisch-an-359725/index.do

Example 2

Name of the instrument:

In national language and English

Lebensmittel-Cluster Oberösterreich (Food cluster Upper Austria)

Sector:

Food industry

Type of instrument applied:

(use categories from question 5. Some sector policies may apply more than one instrument

Cluster promotion

Timing:

(Period of implementation of instrument)

Since 2000; ongoing

Operational level

National

Regional

Local

Please tick the government level and/or provide details of geographical implementation area if relevant:

 

X (regional province of Upper Austria)

 

Funding:

(Please describe the size of the instrument and detail the source(s) of funding, e.g. EU, state budget, levies, stakeholder contributions, etc.).

Funding is provided by:

- the cluster’s host organisation, the regional Upper Austrian office of the Federal Economic Chamber (WKO)

- regional funds (provincial state budget)

- contributions by network partners (annual contribution depending on the size of the company; € 320 for micro enterprises with less than 10 employees; € 635 for small and medium sized enterprises with 10-249 employees; €1,265 for large enterprises with more than 250 employees)

Target group(s):

(please describe target group in terms of sector/industry, type of company, geographical criteria and/or other relevant characteristics)

The food cluster Upper Austria’s target groups are: food producing companies, their direct and indirect supplier companies, R&D organisations/companies and qualification/training institutions; while the focus lies on partners in the regional province of Upper Austria, it is not limited to this geographical area (e.g. universities based in Vienna are also coooperation partners). Partners from the following subsectors (crafts and industries) participate in the network: millers; bakers; butchers; confectioners; food and beverage industry; breweries; animal feed producers; dairies; service providers in the food industry; traders; and R&D institutions.

Rationale/motivation for the instrument:

(please describe the problem that the instrument should address – for instance: market failure, need to increase sector competitiveness, crisis intervention, etc.)

The aim of the establishment of a cluster was to increase the innovative capability of companies in the food sector in Upper Austria through cooperation.

Policy stage

Please describe stage of involvement of the social actors i.e.

policy preparation (consultation),

policy decision (co-determination? and

policy implementation (fx. by involvement in agencies)

The food cluster Upper Austria is a joint project by the Provincial Government of Upper Austria and the Federal Economic Chamber, regional branch Upper Austria (WKOÖ). They were both involved in the policy preparation/consultation processes, as well as in policy decision and implementation processes.

Objectives of the instrument:

(please describe the objectives and any quantitative targets set for the instrument– e.g.

increased employment by X% in sector Y by 20xx

increase in sector exports by X%

increase in FDI by X%

The objectives of the cluster initiative are the development of the strengths in the food industry; the promotion of the competitive strength and innovative strength of the companies; innovation through cooperation; an intensification of the relations within the food industry; and the support especially of SMEs.

Activities and implementation:

(Please give details on the implementation of the intervention)

The cluster was established in September 2000, occupying a central position in the provincial “Upper Austria 2000+ Strategic Programme”. Since then, the network has evolved very dynamically. In September 2003, the cluster was made up of 135 partners (of which 110 were located in Upper Austria) with about 9,300 employees and a turnover of € 1.48 billion. Some 596 farmers were also participating in projects. Ten years later, in September 2013, the cluster consisted of 264 partners with 15,658 employees and a turnover of about € 2.1 billion and 1,192 farmers participating in projects. So within ten years, the number of companies and involved farmers doubled. Of the 264 current partners in the network, some 15 are large enterprises with 250 or more employees (share of 5.68%), 40 companies are medium-sized enterprises with 50-249 employees (share of 15.15%) and 209 companies are small companies with less than 50 employees (share of 79.17%). Of the small companies, some 141 are micro enterprises with less than 10 employees.

Activities of the cluster network include: information and communication with participating partners (e.g. newsletters, journals, data bases, company visits, websites, company directories); coordination and cooperation (e.g. establishment of contacts between potentional project partners; organisation of round table meetings of companies interested in cooperation, support during grant application processes, specific cluster funding instrument); marketing and public relations (e.g. presentations, PR, advertising, measures to strengthen the image of the sector, support for small food producing companies in finding distribution partners, cooperation with tourism in Upper Austria); internationalisation (e.g. screening of potential export markets, establishing international contacts, participation in/visits to relevant international trade fairs) and qualification (organisation of events for better knowledge transfer and qualification like e.g. regular specialised training and events, workshops, company tours, study trips, know-how transfer on trends and technologies, cooperation with R&D and educational institutions).

Content-wise, the following range of activities have taken place since the implementation of the food cluster: development of foods with specific benefits for the consumer (convenience food, functional food, organic food); research of the processing characteristics and possibilities of use for traditional local raw materials; development of quality and hygiene standards for raw materials and additives, as well as for packaging materials; development and use of innovatory storage, freshness and packaging technologies; and research of the processing characteristis and possibilities of the use of additives and their effects.

Social partner involvement

 

Type of social partner involvement:

(Bipartite, tripartite, tripartite+, unilateral, public/private partnership? – cf. qu. 1)

Unilateral (regional Upper Austrian branch of the Federal Economic Chamber WKOÖ)

Level of involvement of social partners involvement:

European, National, regional, local

Sectoral

Regional (provincial)

Specific form of social partner involvement:

(tripartite standing or ad hoc committee, high-level group, hearing, consultation, conferences, etc.? – cf. qu. 2)

The regional Upper Austrian branch of the WKO (WKOÖ) acts as the host organisation of the cluster.

Timing and nature of social partner involvement:

(Please provide more details on the processes that social partners were involved in, their input, the timing, etc.)

The WKOÖ has been involved in the establishment and implementation of the cluster. It provides funding and the organisational headquarters of the cluster initiative and represents and coordinates the Upper Austrian Food Cluster management. Three employees of the WKOÖ are working for the cluster programme.

Impact of social partner involvement on design and implementation of instrument:

(Please describe how/if the design and/or implementation was affected through the involvement of social partners)

The food industry cluster Upper Austria was co-initiated by the WKOÖ which also provided funding and hosts the organisation and administration of the cluster. As one of two major partners, the WKOÖ was heavily involved in the design of the programme.

Other stakeholders involved, if any:

(please name stakeholders and briefly describe their roles)

The regional government of Upper Austria (economic departments and forestry/agricultural department) was the second of the two initiators and funders of the cluster.

Results and outcomes

 

Outputs/results:

(Please give details of the outputs/results of the intervention; e.g number of jobs created/retained, number of workers upskilled; wage increases, investment increases, increased co-operation between social partners, etc.)

Since 2000, 88 projects with some 368 partners have been conducted, of which 78 have thus far been finished. Funding for these projects is mostly provided by the regional government of Upper Austria. Projects include for example the development of a high-performance pizza oven, quality assurance for food packaging or the development of infrared spectroscopy for saccharides in honey. Some projects are also co-financed by the European Union: The project CLUSTER-CORD (Clusters & Cooperation for Regional Development in Central Europe), funded in the Central Europe Programme and running from March 2010 until February 2013, focuses on the promotion of the exchange of best practices in cluster management. Through the creation of ‘meta-clusters’, the cooperation between clusters from different regions, but in the same sector, was promoted. The project TECH.FOOD (Solutions and interventions for the technological transfer and the innovation of the agro-food sector in South East regions) aimed at defining common strategies, tools and opportunities to support research, technological development and innovation of food enterprises. This was done by promoting cooperation between research bodies, institutions and enterprises of seven Southeastern European regions. It was funded in the South East Europe Transnational Cooperation Programme.

Assessment of effectiveness:

(Please provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the intervention - were the objectives reached? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

Due to the lack of any evaluation studies of the cluster programme, it is difficult to give an objective assessment of its effectiveness.

A survey conducted among the partners of the cluster in 2010 shows very positive results: 95% of all participants are satisfied with the work of the cluster. Especially those which are frequently in contact with the cluster (once a month and more) are very satisfied (64%). Frequent contacts and high satisfaction shows the positive image of the food cluster, according to the WKOÖ.

Possible explanations for the effectiveness of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of effectiveness achieved, including the contribution of the social partner involvement; e.g. improved bargaining process? Increased dynamism in the policy process? Other explanations?)

The greatest benefit of the network identified in the survey refers to its networking nature, as an interface for cooperations and in the consultation on project grants and funding. Furthermore, the cluster is seen as an important source of information for its members.

However, the project manager of the cluster, Mr Neuhold, has stated that there is a need to catch up on the establishment of international networks (especially in Germany and eastern Europe) as the food sector is somewhat lagging behind other clusters in other sectors. This might have to do with the fact that the food industry is strongly regionally embedded. Furthermore, the R&D ratio is to be increased. Especially SMEs are to be made aware of research grants and encouraged to participate in research projects. International cooperation and international research projects are also necessary, according to Mr Neuhold, in order not to lag behind large enterprises like Nestlé and Unilever.

Assessment of efficiency:

Did the outputs/results measure up to the effort/resources invested? If possible, base the assessment on evaluation reports or similar)

Due to the lack of any evaluation studies of the cluster programme, it is difficult to give an objective assessment of its efficiency.

As mentioned above, some 88 projects with 368 partners have been initiated and conducted since 2000. For the first 59 projects (i.e. until September 2010), the regional government provided € 3.2 million in funding, thus raising the overall project volume to € 13.3 million (including WKOÖ and EU funds).

Possible explanations for the efficiency of the instrument:

(Please provide possible explanations for the degree of efficiency, including the contribution of the social partner involvement)

n/a

Sources: BMWFJ (2009): Cluster in Österreich: Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven, Endbericht Juli 2009, Viennawww.lebensmittelcluster.at www.wko.at www.clusterland.at

Bernadette Allinger, FORBA (Working Life Research Centre)

COM(2010) 614 An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage. EC 2010

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