Employee Representation Regimes in Europe: Do They Exist in Practice and Have They Changed in the Crisis? a Comparative Analysis of the European Company Survey 2009 and 2013

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
255 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Guy Van Gyes, KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium
Forms of employee representation have been legally institutionalised in most of the EU countries. These ER regimes have also been recently framed in European directives. However, there exists a great variety of institutional ER structures among the EU Member States: union-based or works council type; single or dual channel, complementary or exclusionary. Institutional differences exist also in the powers assigned to the ER, in particular whether the ER has not only consultation, but also co-determination rights (see for example DE). A next dimension of diversity is the role these bodies play in collective bargaining. In many systems they play only an additional role in relation to supra-company bargaining, in other countries they have a key role.

Recently theoretical classifications have been constructed to cluster these different institutional regimes. We can refer to the general typologies of Visser (2009) and Bryson et al. (2012) of IR-regimes. More specific has been the typology of Altmeyer (2005), which is also applied by Van den Berg et al. (2013).  Cooperative or adversarial style, type of body, assigned powers, bargaining role are used to develop a 5-type model.

The country clusters refer to recent classifications used in the Varieties of Capitalism approach (Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, …) (Hamann & Kelly, 2008). This literature comparing types or ‘varieties’ of capitalist economies has also much to say about the role these ‘complementary’ institutional regimes play in the distinctiveness of capitalist types. However, all this clustering has only been very limited empirically tested at workplace level. The paper will in a first step do this empirical test by conducting a cluster analyses on the relevant European Company Survey (ECS) establishment data of 2009. In other words: cross-country company micro-data will be used to do the testing.

In a second step, the paper would compare these results with the ECS data from 2013 and investigate the effect of the crisis on the typology. Do we see in accordance with the ‘cycles of control’ thesis of Ramsay (1977) in the current period of unemployment and labour quiescence  a (converging) trend of ‘excluding’ employee representation in workplace governance? Do we see a trend towards the less labour incorporating model of Anglo-Saxon liberal market economies?

Concretely the paper would tackle the following questions:

  • A confirmatory analysis of the Altmeyer model of ER in Europe: are the country clusters statistically to distinguish?

  • Which type of companies show a different pattern in the country typology?

  • Has there been an evolution in the regime types since the start of the crisis ?

In relation to question one, the most important result sis that especially in the liberal type a separate regime type has to be defined linked to including also a union-avoidance option. In answering the second question, establishment size and foreign-ownership play an important role in non-confirmation (especially in the continental and Nordic type). Evolution in the regime types (question 3) is related to the degree of bargaining decentralisation that occurred (in especially the hard-hit crisis countries).