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A Solution for Transnational Labour Regulation?

Company Internationalization and European Works Councils in the Automotive Sector

Axel Hauser-Ditz, Markus Hertwig, Ludger Pries and Luitpold Rampeltshammer

This book examines the role that European employee representatives play in the restructuring of firms. In a globalized economy, company internationalization and transnational restructuring are of growing concern for employees and trade unions. In the European Union, the still rather new institution of European works councils provides basic rights for employees. Using examples of eight large automotive manufacturers like Volkswagen, GM or Toyota, the volume analyzes the internationalization strategies of the companies and the effects of European works councils, pointing to a high degree of variation in strategies and effectiveness of cross-border employee representation.
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Chapter 12: Summary and prospects – EWCs as transnational European institutions?


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Chapter 12:  Summary and prospects – EWCs as transnational European institutions?

The main aim of this study was to examine the structures and patterns of action of European Works Councils (EWC), drawing on a number of different theoretical and research traditions. Specifically, we brought together perspectives from industrial sociology, which have largely dominated the field, with approaches from organisational studies and transnationalisation research. One major strand, especially in the German literature and drawing on national research into works councils, has been to assess EWCs against the benchmark of German works councils in terms of their capacity to develop comparable functions and ways of working. For studies in the traditions of trade union research, the key research questions have been, firstly, the significance of EWC influence on unions’ organising and mobilising capacity and, secondly and conversely, whether unions for their part might be able to use EWCs as arenas of influence. Management studies have dealt with EWCs either as an additional bureaucratic hurdle or, alternatively, as an interesting new instrument for European-level workforce communication. Our own prime focus has been to understand the organisational structures and operational methods of these new European institutions and analyse how they are embedded in a highly complex and multi-level environment.

From the standpoint of organisational studies, our approach differs from previous approaches to EWC research in that we see EWCs as European non-profit organisations acting within and in relation to for-profit organisations (commercial undertakings). Although such businesses operate...

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