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Paths to Transnational Solidarity

Identity-Building Processes in European Works Councils


Hermann Kotthoff and Michael Whittall

With national industrial relations systems struggling to keep apace with the global and mobile nature of capital, the emergence of the European works council has caught the imagination of both practitioners and scholars of this institution in the last two decades. European works councils find themselves at the centre of an ever emerging European industrial relations landscape, offering employees of multinationals within the European Economic Area the opportunity to work together in regulating employment conditions. An in-depth empirical study of five European works councils, this book offers a unique look into factors which promote and hinder the development of solidarity amongst employees. With a sociological bent, this volume is a must for EWC delegates struggling to deal with geographical, cultural and historical factors that undermine relations between them.
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Chapter 3: Methodology and structure of the report


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Methodology and structure of the report

3.1 Methodology

The aim of the study is to investigate the conditions for the possibility of EWC effectiveness, based on the premise that solidaristic behaviour, through which the group becomes socially constituted, represents a crucial precondition for such a development. As a consequence, and in order to undertake comparative research, we initially decided to choose four ‘best case’ EWCs from a larger number of those that had demonstrated a capacity to undertake a range of activities, and hence representative effectiveness, and proceeded to carry out intensive case studies on these. Our aim was to identify companies in which the EWC had attained a developed practice of information and consultation, possibly extending to negotiation. We also wanted to select companies from four different industrial sectors (metals, chemicals, food, and services), with their corporate centres in four different countries. In order to identify ‘best candidates’ for inclusion, we undertook an extensive prior search process in which we drew on the advice of other EWC researchers and trade union officials active in the EWC field. Our own previous fieldwork, involving case studies of two EWCs, was also included when assembling the list of EWCs that met the criteria. The initial long list contained eight EWCs, and these were then subject to further exploratory interviews. This process yielded a final total of five candidates, and we decided to retain all five, rather than the four initially envisaged. They...

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