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Session Overview
RN17_05b_P: Job Satisfaction and Workplace Representation
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Agnes Akkerman, Radboud University
Location: PC.6.31
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 6.

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Workplace employee representation in a voluntaristic context: the Swiss case in comparison

Heinz Gabathuler, Patrick Ziltener

University of Zurich, Switzerland

In most continental European countries, employee representation bodies elected by the workforce (works councils / Betriebsräte / délégations du personnel / ondernemingsraden) play an important role in social dialogue. They are, either alongside with trade union representatives, or alone, the primary dialogue partners for management when it comes to regulate certain issues at the workplace, establishment or firm level, such as working time and conditions, remuneration, health and safety, consequences of restructuring etc in medium and large size businesses. Their formal constitution as well as their roles and competencies are usually regulated by law.

The case of Switzerland in this international context is quite particular: On the one hand, such institutions enjoy a long tradition, especially in the manufacturing industry and in the financial sector. On the other hand, a law on workplace-level employee representation was only introduced in 1994, whereas a number of collective agreements – on branch and on firm level – provide regulations on “works councils” for a long time already, and in a much more detailed way than the law. Furthermore, terms are also defined on firm or establishment level – which is relevant, as only around half of the private sector workforce are covered by collective agreements. The role of “works councils” in Switzerland can thus only be understood by taking into account the voluntaristic character of Swiss industrial relations.

We will present preliminary findings from a research project on "works councils" in Switzerland, based on an analysis of dominant patterns of collective bargaining within different industries of the private sector in relation with incidence, forms and functions of "works councils", as well as on a number of case studies in selected industries.

The effects of individual motivation and contextual factors on job satisfaction. A cross-sector analysis.

Rosita Garzi1, Nereo Zamaro2, Sonja Cappello1, Gabriella Fazzi2

1Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy; 2ISTAT - Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Italy

The implementation of welfare policies at local level heavily rely upon public and private (mostly non profit) organizations' cooperation. The quality of service delivery is influenced by the quality of working life in these organizations.

The paper presents the results of a multi-sector survey on Public Service Motivation (Perry-Wise, 1990; Pandey et al, 2017) and organizational well-being carried out in the area of Terni, Italy, in 2016. The interviews involved the staff of 2 Municipalities, and the employees of 2 social cooperatives, for a total population of over 1.500 workers. The paper describes the main determinants of job satisfaction, comparing two different organizational settings, and furthermore evaluating to what extend organizational well-being and perceived workplace safety influence the level of perceived job satisfaction.

The paper investigates on the connection between individual motivation, relational and contextual factors, organizational well-being and work satisfaction, leveraging on a multi-sectoral approach to compare the pro-social attitudes of workers employed either in a public, in a non profit both front-end organizations.

The survey was based on mixed mode research techniques. The following tools were used: focus groups; on-line questionnaire; in-depth interviews to key informants.

The findings show significant connections among the dimensions under analysis –i.e. between PSM, job satisfaction, perceived performance, and other contextual factors like leadership style, “red tape” and workplace deviance. Meanwhile, various differences seem to emerge in each kind of organization, suggesting the influence of some “institutional specific effects” at work when trying to explain what facilitates or inhibits employees participation to work.

Stuck on similarities and differences? The practice of comparative workplace employment relations research

Patrick McGovern

LSE, United Kingdom

Despite their growing prominence within industrial relations and the sociology of work, there has been a surprising lack of discussion on the design and execution of cross-nationally comparative workplace case studies. A frequent criticism of such is that it lacks in representativeness or typicality and so its capacity for making country-level generalizations is limited to noting cross-national similarities and differences. Further problems arise when the cases are taken to be typical of particular industries or of MNC companies operating in those countries. Accordingly, the selection of cases is the central choice available to the qualitative comparativist. How then does this emerging workplace literature address this problem?

To capture the current ‘state-of-the-art’ I focus on a random sample of papers published in the leading American, Australian, British, Canadian and European journals on work and employment relations between 2000 and 2014. The articles were analyzed through a form of directed content analysis that combined qualitative and quantitative methods.

In examining the way this research address the problems of national generalization and cross-national comparisons, I focus on problems of case selection, analysis and types of generalization. Current case selection strategies raise a number of questions about the nature and level of comparison. In terms of analysis, a key issue is the division between within-case and cross-case forms of research and their resulting interpretation of the different roles attributed to national differences. The paper concludes by arguing that if this research is to overcome problems of representativeness and demonstrate that differences in national institutions matter then the challenge is one of understanding how such differences matter for theoretical purposes rather than for specific, historical or idiosyncratic reasons.

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