Shifting patterns of labor regulation

Highly qualified knowledge workers in German new media companies

In addition to changing ways of doing business and managing work, the new economy has affected the way that (generally) highly qualified employees participate in company decision-making processes. The research project entitled “Changing forms of labor regulation?” focused on the relationship between individual and collective forms of representation, as well as between regulation at the state, collective bargaining and company levels. It also investigated the possibility of applying new economy modes of representation in more traditional lines of business. Building on established industrial relations theory, this article will first propose three extensions to this conceptual framework and argue that a wider concept of labor regulation is needed. This will be demonstrated using empirical research conducted in new media companies. Economic developments in recent years and a growth in personnel in the companies studied point towards a professionalization of company structures which will have a lasting effect on forms of participation. In the companies studied, it is evident that mixed forms of labor regulation have evolved out of the traditional ideal types of representation (self-representation, alternative forms and works councils). In this context, two tendencies can be identified. First, as far as company structures are concerned, and regarding the rise of collective forms of representation in general, the new forms of regulation seem to be conforming to patterns found in old economy companies. Second, as far as the constellation of individual and/or collective forms of regulation is concerned, the new forms seem to be diverging from those found in the old economy. Trajectory, contingency and innovation effects all influence the specific patterns of labor regulation in the new media companies.

Bibliographische Angaben:
Abel, Jörg; Pries, Ludger:
Shifting patterns of labor regulation
Highly qualified knowledge workers in German new media companies;
In: Critical sociology, Band: 33 (1-2)/2007, S. 101-125