Effective Stakeholder Engagement in European Sectoral Dialogue. What Are the Drivers behind Specific Engagement Outcomes?
A multi-level analytic approach is used to identify and analyse the interactions and communication between social partners at national and the ESSD level. Hence, the analysis encompasses both vertical and horizontal dimensions of engagement between and within trade unions and employer organisations. The vertical dimension of engagement represents the intensity of engagement. The horizontal dimension represents the number of stakeholders and countries involved in ESSD. Combing both dimensions serves as a conceptual map to analyse the complex relationship between stakeholder engagement and various forms of ESSD outcomes. Thus the paper aims to advance our understanding of: (i) the motivations of trade unions and employers organisations to engage in ESSD, (ii) the factors stimulating and constraining engagement and (iii) how (i) and (ii) materialize in different ESSD outcomes. The findings indicate that effective stakeholder engagement is necessary but not sufficient to ensure that ESSD does materialize. The overall purpose of stakeholder engagement is to drive strategic interests. Shared values and expectations among stakeholders in the EU member states about the potential outcome of ESSD are more important than common interest in specific EU topics and may result in more binding outcomes such as ESSD agreements.