Tholen, Jochen
January 2001
Enterprise in Transition: International Conference Proceedings: ;2001, p1271
Conference Proceeding
In the context of the (re)discovery of human resource management, first in the USA and then in Europe, the industrial actors (management and staff) and their relations with each other plays an increasingly important role in international competition. The process of European integration, which should lead to an improved position in the international competition for markets, will bring the different national laws on labour and industrial relations into line with each other. At the same time, a process of decentralisation will be triggered off by technical changes and changes in the organisation of labour (lean production, team-work), which will dissolve the individual and nationally characterized labour and industrial relations in Europe from below. The Europeanization and decentralisation of company regulations and industrial relations are integral changes which are basically to be seen in connection with deregulation and partially with regulation such as are known in the political arena (party politics and employers' associations). This bipolar development is the general framework in which the development process of company laws in the core states of the European Union (France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom) is embedded. The principal and central point of reference is the process of political, economic and social integration within the European Union and its implementation in companies. This process is the framework in which industrial relations develop. The introduction of a European Works' Council is hereby only one constituent in the process of Europeanization among others. A further constituent which will be more effective in the long-term and is just as important from a political point of view is the recognition of the Europeanization of company strategies, and more generally of the labour society by works' councils, even in those companies which are not included in the regulations of the European Union. This all takes place in the context of the processes of globalisation processes and international competition, especially between Europe, the United States and South(-East) Asia (the so-called Triad). In principle, two different tendencies in the process of Europeanization are conceivable: A new and then Europeanized company law could be created which although having its sources in the national models of labour relations is not, however, simply an extension of the modernized industrial relations in the countries concerned. This would support the hypothesis that the previous national models of industrial relations in the company would lose their importance in comparison to the European solution. Another scenario could be characterized by a development in which the European works' councils strengthen the corporate identity of corporations located in Europe and thus encouraging concern syndicalism. This would lead to the institution of a European works' council being untied from the national models of labour relations in question (including trade union organisations in the countries) which, under certain circumstances, could have fatal effects on the integrated system of interest representation.


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