Maarten Keune

University of Amsterdam

Passion and interests

Industrial relations in the videogame industry in Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands The role of private regulation and non-state actors in the enforcement of collective labour agreements. An example from the Netherlands

Lisa Dorigatti, University of Milan
Wike M. Been, University of Amsterdam
Luigi Burroni, University of Florence
Maarten Keune, University of Amsterdam
Trine P. Larsen, FAOS, University of Copenhagen
Mikkel Mailand, FAOS, University of Copenhagen

The literature on creative labour and its characteristics has been booming over the last two decades, starting from pioneering work in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These works widely acknowledged a number of common characteristics shared by creative labour in different creative industries and marked by the trait of ambiguity. The videogame industry was until recently largely overlooked by this literature, but recent contributions have started to explore this sector. Still, while the characteristics of work in videogame production have started being analyzed, much less work has been done concerning the role of industrial relations institutions and actors in shaping employment and representing the interests of the sector's workforce. IR in creative industries, project-based work helps explaining the lack of IR in creative industries.

This paper addresses this research gap by looking at interest representation in the videogame industry in three different national contexts, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands. Based on more than 50 in-depth interviews with trade unionists, officials of business and employer associations and of professional organizations, and individual workers and managers within different kind of companies active in the industry, it explores the role of traditional industrial relations actors (trade unions and employer associations) and of new forms of interest representation in articulating the collective voice of different workers and companies in the videogame sector. In particular, we will highlight two key elements. First, traditional IR actors and traditional IR practices, such as collective bargaining, play a rather marginal role in representing workers and companies, and in regulating employment in the sector. Second, the dominant interest representation actors in the sector are business or professional organisations, and informal networks, which often cut across the employer-employee divide and represent the interest of the industry as a whole, focusing in particular on services and lobbying activities for its growth and success. Even if some differences are visible, this situation is present in all three analyzed countries, despite the strong variation in their IR models.

We argue that this situation can be largely explained by the characteristics of employment in the vide-ogame sector. In particular, the high mobility which characterize the industry, with people frequently moving across different employment statuses (employee, employer, self-employed), the strong im-portance of intrinsic motivations, and the differentiated degrees of vulnerability of different groups of workers in the industry, all contribute to distance the industry from the collective identities of tradi-tional social partners and to strengthen the appeals to occupational identities which accomunate the whole industries developed by professional and business organizations.

These findings contribute both to the industrial relations literature and the literature on creative labor. First, this paper provides new empirical material on employment relations and collective action in a new segment of the economy, highlighting the tensions and challenges traditional IR institutions face in changing economic environments. Second, our analysis corroborates recent calls for questioning the “methodological nationalism” of traditional comparative industrial relations literature, highlighting the importance of sectoral characteristics and dynamics in shaping employment relations processes. Lastly, this paper provides an important contribution to the literature on creative labour, by exploring the rather unexplored issue of interest representation in creative sectors and how they relate to sector-specific characteristics. In so doing, it takes up recent calls in the literature for more detailed empirical studies which go beyond a homogenizing view of creative labour and places strong attention to sectoral specificities.

Crossing sectoral boundaries

Employment relations in the facility management business

Alejandro Godino, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Maarten Keune, University of Amsterdam
Oscar Molina, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Nöelle Payton, University of Amsterdam

This paper examines the implications that the expansion of Facility Management business has on the coverage of collective bargaining and the transformation of employment relations. For this purpose, the paper investigates the regulatory framework and the social actors’ strategies in relation to the expansion of this business in six European countries that are representative of different models of industrial relations, but also illustrative of different development stages of the Facility Management business: France, Italy, Netherland, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Outsourcing of low-skilled services, tensions in collective bargaining and pressures on equality

A comparative analysis in cleaning activity in three EU countries

Marcello Pedaci, University of Teramo
Carmela Guarascio, University of Calabria
Joan Rodriguez Soler, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Maarten Keune, University of Amsterdam
Nöelle Payton, University of Amsterdam

This paper focuses on the widespread outsourcing of industrial cleaning, often considered an emblematic case of «bottom-end service work».  Today, the majority of cleaners are employed by specialised providers. The paper analyses the effects of this outsourcing on collective bargaining coverage, earnings, inequality and conflicts. It also discusses the capacity of existing institutions to deal with these phenomena and as well as the strategies deployed by social partners to address them. The paper develops a comparative analysis in three EU countries (Italy, France and the Netherlands), where multi-employer collective bargaining has traditionally been strong, with a view to identify differences and similarities in effects of outsourcing and solutions developed by social partners.

The crumbling of the poldermodel: The end of Dutch corporatism?

Maarten Keune, University of Amsterdam
Paul de Beer, University of Amsterdam

The poldermodel has long been considered a proper way to create societal support for common policies and to minimize conflict in society. In the 1990s it was also heralded for its contribution to a successful economy, characterized by a balance between economic and social outcomes (Visser and Hemerijck 1997).

Today we see that we still have the polder institutions in place. The Socioeconomic Council and the Labour Foundation are active and collective agreements continue to cover some 80% of employees. At the same time, in line with Streeck and Thelen's (2005) work on gradual institutional change, slowly but surely changes have taken place in the actual functioning of these institutions and the outcomes they produce. The power balance between employers and workers has shifted in favour of the former, strengthening their position in collective bargaining and increasing their discretion over all aspects of work and the labour market (Baccaro and Howell 2017). Employers are less and less willing to not only pursue their own interests but also take those of the other side and of society at large into account, and to reach compromises. Collective bargaining has become more conflictive and difficult and moreand more collective agreements are concluded without the largest trade union. Also, the influence of the Socioeconomic Council and the Labour Foundation on government socioeconomic policies has been declining while these policies allign more with the interests of employers than of workers and their unions.

These changes in power and the functioning of institutions have resulted in, among others, long-term wage moderation and a decline of the share of income for workers; a gradual demise of the permanent contract and increase flexibility and insecurity in the labour market; and the growing insecurity of occupational pensions. Workers more and more bear the risks of the economy and the labour markets to the favour of employers and shareholders.

In this paper we discuss these processes and their causes in detail and argue that in the long run, they threaten to erode the foundations of the poldermodel as well as the relative equality of Dutch society.

Subscribe to RSS - Maarten Keune