World Congresses

Thirteenth IIRA World Congress, Berlin, Germany, 8-12 September 2003

Track 1: Enterprise Reorganization: Negotiated, Consultative, or Unilateral?

This track is devoted to the complex and protracted, internal as well as external processes of enterprise reorganization and business reengineering in the broadest sense. It will cover a wide range of strategic options, which prepare companies for competing in a network economy. Topics include fading boundaries within and between enterprises, strategic and operative decentralization, company networks, mergers, and the organizational development of transnational as well as virtual enterprises. Of crucial importance in reorganization processes are the roles of such actors as management, owners, shareholders and employees, including their representative bodies and organizations. Additionally, a major aim of this track will be to develop an understanding of different HRM strategies and the reorganization of internal, enterprise specific labor markets.

Plenary papers

Track 2: Changing Contours of the Employment Relationship and New Modes of Labor Regulation

Employment relationships are in flux as the network economy develops. Economic and social de-regulation and re-regulation as well as shifts in the relationship between individual and collective labor law are affecting established norms. New and different patterns of atypical employment, such as short-term contracts, marginal part-time work, new forms of self-employment, in- and outsourcing, and telework are representative of the changing nature of employment. This track will deal with the various aspects of the fuzzy concept of employability. In this context, the specific question of vocational training, as well as the increasing importance of continuing education will be raised. Fruitful discussion is expected to result from empirical analyses of employment relations in both industry and the new service sectors. Contributions will also be welcomed on employment relations in SMEs in different parts of the world, on recent changes and future problems in social insurance and pension systems, as well as on the shifting boundaries of corporate, collective, state and supranational governance.

Plenary papers

Track 3: Industrial Relations and Global Labor Standards

As various supra-national political regimes and regional economic blocks such as ASIAN, NAFTA or Mercosur develop around the world, the issue of their impact on labor is of growing concern. This track will address the topic in conjunction with the network economy in several ways. A major focus will be on the relationship between world trade and social clauses. Complimentary to such international levels of regulation, the issue of the viability of tripartite arrangements and social dialogues will be treated. Included in the scope of this track will also be different problems concerning the application of minimum labor standards at the national, regional, local and enterprise level. Questions regarding the consequences of employment modes such as child labor and sweat shops for the newly industrialized and developing countries and the economic and social impact of the informal sector in national and regional settings are important aspects of this topic as well.

Plenary papers

Track 4: Collective Actors in Industrial Relations: What Future?

Decentralization, deregulation and an increase in flexibility on the one hand, and internationalization and globalization on the other hand raise the question of the future of collective actors: Will trade unions and employers' associations suffer further organizational erosion or will they experience an unexpected revival? How will their roles be affected by changes in traditional employment relations and developments in a network economy? The changing role of the state is another aspect of the topic, calling for an analysis of the state's functional input on the trajectory from dispenser of welfare to a guarantor of national competitiveness. At the workplace level there is also the issue of the relationship between established representative actors (works councils / union stewards) and "new" actors of direct participation, often in conjunction with the introduction of semi-autonomous work groups. Finally, it will be important to focus on global issues of industrial relations and point to the impact of emerging international organizations on actors at the national, regional and local level.

Plenary papers

Track 5: European Integration: Convergence or Diversity?

The primary aim of this track is to address the issue of labor relations in the European Union. Specific topics to be covered include the future development of European Works Councils, the further institutionalization of the social dialogue at the European and the sectoral levels, the implementation of cross-national European employment policies according to the Treaty of Amsterdam, and the impact of the European Monetary Union on collective bargaining at the national and supra-national levels. A further topic of timely importance for this track is the challenge of the eastern enlargement of the EU. A prime focus of this track will be the integration of national and sectoral labor markets within the context of the economic and social integration of countries at different levels of development. Special importance will also be attached to the social dimension and the development of social partnership in this process.

Plenary papers