Mikkel Mailand

FAOS, University of Copenhagen

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.

Corporatist survivors in an age of adversity – Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria compared

Mikkel Mailand, FAOS, University of Copenhagen

Studies of the role and involvement of social partners in welfare state and labour market reforms covering the period from the outset of the Great Recession have emphasized the exclusion of the social partners - especially of the trade unions - from policy making. Hereby, the studies paint a picture of decline in corporatism as a governance mode. The present paper acknowledge this general picture, but wants to nuance it by focusing on ‘corporatist survivors’, i.e. countries were corporatism during and after the Great Recession has remained important for socio-economic governance. The paper will do to illuminate how and why corporatism can survived under difficult circumstances. Moreover, while the corporatist literature for decades mostly has focuses on the grand ‘social pacts’, the present paper will in addition to these include corporatist arrangement on single issues/ in single policy area, in order to provide a more encompassing picture of corporatism. The areas of unemployment insurance, active labour market policy and further training will be in focus. Finally, to test continued relevance of corporatism the paper will analyse the extent to which new issues – such as the increasing number of refugees – are addressed by corporatist arrangements. This might also give an indication of the future relevance of corporatism.

Apart from being corporatist survivors, the three countries in focus - Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria – represent different traditions of corporatism with regards to, e.g., to what extent formal tripartite structures exist and how important they are, and to what extent regulation of wage and working are excluded from government control and placed under social partner self-governance.

More specifically, the paper will seek to answer two research questions: 1) To what extent are the social partners in the three selected countries still able to influence the regulation of old and new societal challenges through corporatism (in the form of tripartite arrangements) after the Great Recession? 2) Why has corporatism survived in these countries and which factors explain best the development in their corporatist arrangements?

Theoretically, the paper will draw on studies of corporatism and of Varieties of Capitalism as well as other studies related to these two traditions. The methods used in the paper are, firstly, analyses of 41 semi-structured interviews (with government representatives, employers’ organisations, trade unions and organisations representing municipalities, as well as a few researchers) and, secondly, analyses of relevant legislation and other policy documents.

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