Restructuring Work and Employment in Europe
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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.
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Chapter 1: Comparing Processes Across Europe

Bernard Gazier


Bernard Gazier INTRODUCTION Developing European cross-fertilization regarding the management of restructuring makes it necessary to choose and present a framework for international comparison and evaluation in these matters. In this contribution, we would like to sketch one in a pragmatic way. Pragmatic because we do not intend to propose a full-blown system for international comparison of employment trajectories and related public policies; instead, we shall select some well-known theoretical and empirical work in this burgeoning field that proves relevant in the precise case of restructuring, and try to make explicit the implications. Pragmatic again because we shall rely on the studies done in the Monitoring Innovative Restructuring in Europe (MIRE) network, focus on the five national cases it explores – Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom – and make use of its contributions: case studies, country reports or transversal comparative assessments. Together with other recent related work (see for example the 2006 report of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Storrie 2006)) they identify numerous common elements and convergences, but also persisting differences in key domains, and this illustrates the classical challenge of comparing the variety of labour markets and social protection systems across countries. In the work performed in the MIRE network on national experiences of restructuring, most of the material has been gathered and organized around a rather well identified object: the mass dismissal process and its consequences, obviously depending on similar problems dealt with in different national contexts. We...

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