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Contemporary restructuring trends in European multinational corporations: rationale and impact on labour and workers’ participation

Christoph Dörrenbächer (Faculty of Business and Economics, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Berlin, Germany)
Mike Geppert (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany)
Aline Hoffmann (European Trade Union Institute, Brussels, Belgium)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 13 July 2020

Issue publication date: 23 November 2021




This paper addresses the so far hardly understood contemporary restructuring trends in European Multinational corporations (MNCs), their rationales and their labour-related implications.


The paper is based on a systematic evaluation of academic and non-academic literature, as well as on more than 30 in-depth interviews with academic experts, management consultants, trade union consultants and workers’ representatives.


European MNCs continue to grow bigger, mostly through debt financed mergers and acquisitions. This triggers intensive cross-border standardization and reorganization activities that most prominently materialize as a sustained move towards global factories; a new wave of cross-border standardization in Human Resource Management, information technology and Big Data-driven, as well as compliance-induced reorganization measures.


This paper is the first to empirically map contemporary restructuring trends in European MNCs in a comprehensive way. Moreover, it addresses the managerial rationale underlying these restructuring trends. Based on these insights the paper assesses labour related implications that are both positive and negative.



The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), which receives financial support from the European Commission.


Dörrenbächer, C., Geppert, M. and Hoffmann, A. (2021), "Contemporary restructuring trends in European multinational corporations: rationale and impact on labour and workers’ participation", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 637-654.



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