Collective Voice under Decentralized Bargaining: A Comparative Study of Work Reorganization in US and German Call Centres
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This article compares the process of and outcomes from work reorganization in US and German call centres, based on four matched case studies in the telecommunications industry. Both German cases adopted high-involvement employment systems with broad skills and worker discretion, while the US cases relied on a narrow division of labour, tight discipline and individual incentives. These outcomes are explained by differences in institutional supports for collective voice. Works councils in the German companies used their stronger participation rights to limit monitoring and encourage upskilling at a time when US managers were rationalizing similar jobs. Findings demonstrate that industrial relations institutions can have a substantial influence on employment systems in work settings characterized by decentralized bargaining and strong cost pressures.
This paper was the recipient of LERA James G. Scoville Best International/Comparative Industrial Relations Paper Award in 2010.
call centres; United States; Germany; industrial relations; employment systems; work councils; telecommunications; decentralized bargaining
Required Publisher Statement: © Wiley. Final version published as: Doellgast, V. (2010). Collective voice under decentralized bargaining: A comparative study of work reorganization in US and German call centres [Electronic version]. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 48(2), 375-399. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8543.2010.00791.x Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.