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.

Chapter 14: Health Impacts and Innovative Approaches

Thomas Kieselbach and Debora Jeske

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


Thomas Kieselbach and Debora Jeske 1. HEALTH AND RESTRUCTURING Restructuring generally aims to improve organisational performance, often by downsizing the workforce through structural changes. However, organisational efficacy is often one of the aspects which is negatively affected before, during and after such a process – to the point that downsizing decreases rather than increases efficiency. Measures typically used to assess the effectiveness of downsizing from a corporate perspective are clearly inadequate as a means of understanding and managing the impact of this process on all stakeholders, particularly employees and the local community (Shaw & Barrett-Power, 1997). Such measures usually relate to economic performance indicators, such as profitability, productivity, investment returns, and consumer satisfaction. However, the consequences for those employees, dismissed or otherwise affected as a result of restructuring, suggest the need for a new cost factor to be considered. Even within a narrow accounting approach, restructurings are not always profitable (and some fail). In evaluating restructuring there is another dimension beyond the obvious financial and political outcomes – the consequences and implications of restructuring for the health of those directly or indirectly affected by this process. The question which often arises is whether health problems uncovered during restructuring have existed undetected before the restructuring took place or whether they were actually triggered by the restructuring. In the past, occupational health has been investigated primarily in relation to obvious physical risks to the individual’s health, focusing on ergonomic and physical issues at work. However, these policies...

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