This article aims to develop an original conceptual approach for the research and analysis of European works councils (EWCs) through a critical examination of the theoretical debate on the Europeanization of industrial relations and the main results of the huge body of quantitative and qualitative empirical studies of these transnational bodies for effective worker participation.
Starting from the authors' own experiences in qualitative case‐study research, they summarise the main developments of EWCs as the most advanced institutional piece in the emerging dimension of European industrial relations and discuss the strength and weakness of the different approaches employed in EWC research.
From a perspective of “political economy of European integration” the development of EWCs shows the changing power constellations at the micro‐ and meso‐level of transnational firm complexes. More than 800 EWCs councils with thousands of workers' representatives generate hope for an emergent system of industrial relations, but globalization, economic crisis, intensification of regime competition or the consequences on employment of relocation, restructuring and downsizing are threatening advances in this fundamental piece of the European social project.
The paper offers not only a comprehensive state of the art of theoretical debate and empirical research on EWCs, but develops an original and innovative analytical approach for future research. In a meso‐political perspective, linking together micro‐politics with the interaction of the firm with other collective actors, namely public authorities, trade unions and employers' associations at different levels, transnational industrial relations at company level are best analysed as dynamic networks of actors embedded in the framework of the transnational corporation, conceived as a political complex with different actors struggling for increasing their influence on corporate decision‐making processes.
Köhler, H. and González Begega, S. (2010), "The European works council as a multidimensional contested terrain", Employee Relations, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 590-605. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451011083645Download as .RIS
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