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Collective Voice under Decentralized Bargaining: A Comparative Study of Work Reorganization in US and German Call Centres

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  • Virginia Doellgast

Abstract

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. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2010.

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  • Virginia Doellgast, 2010. "Collective Voice under Decentralized Bargaining: A Comparative Study of Work Reorganization in US and German Call Centres," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 375-399, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:48:y:2010:i:2:p:375-399
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Larry W. Hunter & John J. Lafkas, 2003. "Opening the Box: Information Technology, Work Practices, and Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 224-243, January.
    2. Virginia Doellgast & Ursula Holtgrewe & Stephen Deery, 2009. "The Effects of National Institutions and Collective Bargaining Arrangements on Job Quality in Front-Line Service Workplaces," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 62(4), pages 489-509, July.
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    5. Virginia Doellgast & Ian Greer, 2007. "Vertical Disintegration and the Disorganization of German Industrial Relations-super-1," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(1), pages 55-76, March.
    6. David Finegold & Karin Wagner, 2002. "Are Apprenticeships Still Relevant in the 21st Century? A Case Study of Changing Youth Training Arrangements in German Banks," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(4), pages 667-685, July.
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    8. Anke Hassel, 1999. "The Erosion of the German System of Industrial Relations," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 37(3), pages 483-505, September.
    9. Harry C. Katz & Rosemary Batt & Jeffrey H. Keefe, 2003. "The Revitalization of the CWA: Integrating Collective Bargaining, Political Action, and Organizing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 573-589, July.
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    11. Matias Ramirez & Frederick Guy & David Beale, 2007. "Contested Resources: Unions, Employers, and the Adoption of New Work Practices in US and UK Telecommunications," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 45(3), pages 495-517, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiara Benassi, 2016. "Liberalization Only at the Margins? Analysing the Growth of Temporary Work in German Core Manufacturing Sectors," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(3), pages 597-622, September.
    2. Daniel Nyberg & Graham Sewell, 2014. "Collaboration, Co-operation or Collusion? Contrasting Employee Responses to Managerial Control in Three Call Centres," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(2), pages 308-332, June.
    3. Gregory Jackson, 2016. "Toward a Conceptual Framework for Understanding Institutional Change in Japanese Capitalism: Structural Transformations and Organizational Diversity," Working Papers halshs-01643921, HAL.

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