- Globalization and working time: working hours and flexibility in Germany
- Politics & Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article challenges popular wisdom that economic globalization uniformly increases working time in industrialized countries. International investment and trade, they argue, have uneven effects for workplace bargaining over standard hours and over work-time flexibility, such as use of temporary or fixed work contracts. The authors explain how such globalization will tend to more substantially decrease standard hours than it does work-time flexibility. And they explain how works councils and union-led collective bargaining alter the way globalization affects both aspects of working time.The analysis of German enterprise data supports these expectations. Measures of globalization diminish standard working hours but yield more temporary work, fixed-contract work, and flexible working arrangements. Works councils and collective bargaining, however, mediate these effects in contrasting ways. Among enterprises without works councils or collective agreements globalization triggers more standard hours, but among firms with such representation globalization triggers fewer hours. With respect to flexibility, however, globalization increases use of temporary or fixed-term contracts more strongly where works councils or collective bargaining are present than when they are not. In short, economic openness has uneven consequences for working time, and firm-level labor representation channels those consequences in ways that highlight political agency in how people respond to globalization.
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