Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe

Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation

Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman

This detailed, comprehensive study on downsizing in Europe is underpinned by cross-national, interdisciplinary empirical research on restructuring management in five European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It contains systematic national comparative overviews, and transversal analyses of more than 30 in-depth case studies, taking into account a broad range of perspectives across professional human resources managers, unions’ representatives, local and national civil servants, social workers and physicians. The authors examine strategic choices and practices in national and local contexts, showing that the practice of restructuring is not as heterogeneous as many previous studies have indicated or predicted. Systematic policy proposals for better economic and social management of restructuring are also prescribed.

Introduction

Frederic Bruggeman and Bernard Gazier

Subjects: business and management, strategic management, economics and finance, labour economics

Extract

Frédéric Bruggeman and Bernard Gazier More than ever at the beginning of the new century, restructuring processes, the fears they inspire and the changes they trigger, are at the top of the European agenda. Europe has a long lasting tradition of absorbing and cushioning the harmful social effects of restructuring. One may recall here the founding experience of the European Community of Coal and Steel in the 1950s, which greatly helped these sectors and their workers to cope with plant closure, reconversion and redeployment. Compared to the rest of the world, Europe often does more (Auer, Besse and Méda (eds) 2005). This can be attributed to its long lasting and well implanted “social model” (in its quite different manifestations) and also to a tradition of active intervention by the State or the local authorities in a context of limited labour mobility. One often implicit but persistent choice made by policymakers in Europe has been, and still is, not to abandon depressed areas when firms leave them, but to re-develop territories and help regions doing it. This choice is congruent with the strong propensity of many European workers to stay in their region of origin even if companies and job opportunities leave. These are at least four reasons for dissatisfaction with this situation. First, even when cushioned, the ruptures associated with plant closure and mass dismissals remain amongst the most brutal one can experience. Like divorce or a major health problem, they have significant impacts...