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The Europeanization of Industrial Relations in the Service Sector

Problems and Perspectives in a Heterogeneous Field


Stefan Rüb and Hans-Wolfgang Platzer

The service sector has not always received the attention it merits in industrial relations research when set against its enormous economic significance. One factor in this is certainly the highly diverse nature of services. Research attention has also lagged behind long-standing processes of transnationalization undertaken by service sector companies and the challenges these pose for policy and practice in the field of employment relations. This study by Stefan Rüb and Hans-Wolfgang Platzer represents a pioneering effort to remedy this gap. Through six named company case studies, Rüb and Platzer explore the scope and background for transnational employee relations conflicts and the mechanisms that have emerged to resolve and anticipate these, highlighting the complex relationships between employee representatives, management and trade unions.
The choice of case studies aims to capture a broad range of service sector employment, in terms of both working conditions and employment relations arrangements. As well as covering a number of key sectors, the choice of home countries of the selected firms also aims to capture the impact of national influences for the main industrial relations models in Europe. Overall, the study offers insights into the complexities of the Europeanization of company-level industrial relations in a dynamic field now also confronted by the convulsions unleashed by the Eurozone crisis.
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Chapter 4: Accelerated development of European industrial relations after the establishment of an SE: The case of Allianz


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Accelerated development of European industrial relations after the establishment of an SE: The case of Allianz

4.1 Allianz SE

Allianz SE is the holding company of Allianz Group, and one of the largest insurance undertakings in the world (Wikipedia, 2014a). In 2012, the company, which has 144,000 employees, had total revenues of €106.4 billion and a profit (net income) of €5.5 billion (Allianz Group, 2012). The company headquarters are in Munich, Germany.

The insurance business consists of two basic segments: property and casualty insurance, and life and health insurance. Each has a wide product portfolio. The group also has an asset management business that includes PIMCO and AllianzGI.1

Allianz has traditionally been a decentralized organization, with most of its business undertaken by national subsidiaries. One factor behind this decentralized approach is Allianz’s strategic priority of responsiveness to national differences in insurance markets. A further element is the legacy of Allianz’s international expansion strategy since the 1980s, which consisted in acquiring companies abroad that were well-positioned ← 71 | 72 → with a strong market presence, where possible the market leader, so that there was no subsequent need to engage in internal restructuring (INT Allianz CM DE 3–13).

In order to make better use of the scale advantages of an international group structure, Allianz embarked some time ago on creating shared services to handle cross-divisional functions such as IT and accounts for a number of...

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