IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Do countries matter? Explaining the variation in the use of numerical flexibility arrangements across European companies using a Multi-level model

  • Chung, Heejung
Registered author(s):

    Do countries matter, especially compared to other aspects that affect the flexibility behaviours of companies? Many studies on the labour market assume that there are country differences, cross-national variances, and that it is a crucial factor in explaining the actual practices of the labour market by individuals and companies. The supposition is that although there are variations across countries, the behaviour of actors within the country is rather homogeneous. Thus, due to country level characteristics, the actors within the country are seen to act similarly. This is due to the fact that individuals and individual companies are restricted within the country due to their institutional frame, cultural and social boundaries. However, this does not necessarily mean that actors are completely restricted within these boundaries. This becomes more evident when we are dealing with labour market flexibility options, for this can be developed (in companies or perhaps by individuals) as a coping mechanism to overcome the restrictions of society. This paper asks the questions, do countries matter, and to what extent it does matter and how it matters. It addresses this issue by first comparing the variance of each level under examination, that is, the country, sector and company level, through the use of a multi-level random effects model. The examination of the variance of each level will allow us to see to which extent countries matter. Also this model allows us to see how factors that explain the flexibility behaviours of companies show different effects across countries to answer the question how countries matter in an exploratory manner. The issue of flexibility is addressed uniquely in this paper in two aspects. Unlike many of the previous studies on this issue, this paper uses a broader definition of flexibility, thus, it perceives labour market flexibility as a method used for the needs of workers as well as those of employers or companies. In other words, as companies facilitate their adaptation to business cycles through labour market flexibility, workers adapt to life cycles through it. Based on this definition, flexibility practices used within companies can be measured two dimensionally, on one side its overall level and another to whom it is (more) geared towards. Also, unlike studies that focus on one or few specific arrangements, this paper does not examine various flexibility options as separate entities. It examines the practices as a whole, i.e. the use and the combination of various arrangements in achieving numerical flexibility. The data used here is the European Survey of Working-Time and Work-life Balance (ESWT) from the European Foundation of the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. This survey covers 21000 establishments in 21 EU member states for the years 2004/2005. The outcomes of this study show that being within a certain country is indeed an important factor in explaining the differences between companies in taking up flexibility options. However, the variance between companies within a country is much larger, especially when considering the flexibility options that are geared towards the needs of employers. Compared to country and company levels there are small differences between sectors within countries. Of the company level characteristics, size of the company, worker composition, industrial relation aspects, and variations in work loads were important determinants of the flexibility practices within companies. Also it seems that the effects of explanatory variables are different across the European countries. For flexibility options that are used for company’s production needs being within certain sectors have different implications across countries. For flexibility options that are used for worker’s work-life balance needs, industrial relations aspects of the company, thus the existence of working time agreements and employee representatives have different implications across countries. There seems to be a division with the EU 15 and the new accession countries in these effects where the relationship as well as the strength of the effect changes. There are some evidence that companies may use work-life balance options as incentives to recruit and maintain their skilled work force, as we can see the countries where labour force demand is strong the effect of proportion of skilled workers in the provision of flexibility options for workers is stronger, and visa versa. Also collective agreements on working time may help the use of various flexibility option for both worker’s needs as well as company’s needs, especially in countries where flexibility options are not widely and frequently used.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/5449/1/MPRA_paper_5449.pdf
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 5449.

    as
    in new window

    Length:
    Date of creation: Oct 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5449
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
    Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
    Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
    Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Susan N. Houseman, . "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh2001, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    2. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
    3. Danièle Meulders & Sile Padraigin O'Dorchai & Janneke Plantenga & Chantal Remery, 2005. "Reconciliation of work and private life: A comparative review of thirty European countries," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/92392, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5449. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.