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 3: Innovation: From Employment Protection to Anticipation

Frédéric Bruggeman


1 Frédéric Bruggeman INTRODUCTION Restructuring is essentially a process in which economic and social aspects are inextricably intertwined over a relatively long period of time (from several months to several years). The most tangible stage, the announcement of job losses, is but the tip of the iceberg.2 In fact restructuring is the name given to the “creative destruction” process observed on the ground, that is, at organisational level, whatever the company’s size. At this level, the restructuring process always follows a very similar pattern. A more or less early decision is taken by management, which informs workers – or workers’ representatives where they exist – more or less late, the later being often deemed by management as the better. A more or less thorough information consultation process may pave the way to creative negotiations, ending with a more or less fair selection process that entails a more or less substantial number of lay-offs/redundancies. Then three separate processes unfold: the company enters a more or less successful period of transformation; the employees begin a more or less rough transition phase; and, depending on the scale of redundancy and on its experience in dealing with it, the region in which it takes place is more or less affected and able to adequately respond. Depending on the company in which the process takes place, on its environment, on the business it is in and on its history, each step will vary in its complexity and in the length of time it...

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