Chapter 1: The role of industrial relations for equitable socio-technical change in construction value chains: overview
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The aim of the chapter is to present the main objectives, theorical framework and methodology of DISCUS: a European Union co-funded action-research project based on a comparative analysis on industrial relations systems addressing the major challenges and opportunities delivered by digitalisation and technological changes in the construction sector. We start our analysis with the drivers and analytical dimensions of the transition towards digitalisation in the construction value chains. We consider the effects induced by the implementation of a “lean construction model” on organisational cultures, relational models and people’s skills. The paper supports the importance of adressing digitalisation as a sociotechnical transition, overcoming technological reductionism and determinism in favor of a vision of systemic change that pursuits the integration between technological and social innovation. The research emphasises the need to promote a democratic governance of innovation capable of protecting quality of work, economic development and sustainability through the full involvement of workers and a proactive role of trade unions to shape the nature of digital innovation by fostering a “just transition” to digitalisation. The research emphasises the key role of the social partners, and in particular of trade unions, in fostering a “just transition” to digitalisation by promoting the participation of workers as active agents of change.

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