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Telework in the 21st Century

An Evolutionary Perspective

Edited by Jon C. Messenger

Technological developments have enabled a dramatic expansion and also an evolution of telework, broadly defined as using ICTs to perform work from outside of an employer’s premises. This volume offers a new conceptual framework explaining the evolution of telework over four decades. It reviews national experiences from Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan, the United States, and ten EU countries regarding the development of telework, its various forms and effects. It also analyses large-scale surveys and company case studies regarding the incidence of telework and its effects on working time, work-life balance, occupational health and well-being, and individual and organizational performance.
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Edited by Keith Townsend, Kenneth Cafferkey, Aoife M. McDermott and Tony Dundon

This Elgar Introduction provides an overview of some of the key theories that inform human resource management and employment relations as a field of study.
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Keith Townsend, Aoife M. McDermott, Kenneth Cafferkey and Tony Dundon

It is perhaps easier to explain what theory is not rather than what it is. Theory is not facts or data. Nor is theory a hypothesis, or a case study. It is not a literature review. A theory is a set of general principles or ideas that are meant to explain how something works, and is independent of what it intends to explain. The purpose of a theory (or set of theories) is to help explain what causes something to occur, or to inform us of the likely consequences of a phenomenon. In so doing, theories can be more or less abstract, and be pitched at different levels - explaining society, processes, relations, behaviour and perceptions. For practitioners, theories can enhance understanding and inform decision-making. For researchers, theories shape the framing of their data, and are often presented as an essential part of any well-designed research project. Reflecting this, Hambrick (2007: 1346) argues that theory is essential for a field to flourish and advance. Indeed, many management journals require scholars to make a ‘theoretical contribution’ to get published, prompting something of an obsession with a theory-driven approach in management-related areas. Thus, while recognizing the value and importance of theory, we offer a cautionary note. Specifically, we suggest that it may be fruitful for a field to support initial consideration of phenomena-driven trends or patterns before becoming fixated on having a theoretical explanation. For example, that smoking can cause harm and ill health in humans does not need a theory to prove its validity (Hambrick, 2007). Reflecting this, in disciplines such as sociology, economics and finance there has been less of an ‘essential need’ to publish with some new theoretical development in mind. Instead, ideas, logics, concepts, premises are given due attention and the notion of exploring data is seen as valid and valuable in deciding if certain issues or phenomena are in themselves evident or emergent. Where this is the case, theory can then help to understand and explain such issues. Theory is therefore a crucial lens on the world, one that provides value in addressing both evident and emergent issues. Notwithstanding that empirics and theory both contribute value and vibrancy to a field, our focus here is on the role of theory, and some of the specific theories used in employment relations (ER) and human resource management (HRM) research.

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Colin C. Williams and Ioana A. Horodnic

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Dependent Self-Employment

Theory, Practice and Policy

Colin C. Williams and Ioana A. Horodnic

Dependent self-employment is widely perceived as a rapidly growing form of precarious work conducted by marginalised lower-skilled workers subcontracted by large corporations. Unpacking a comprehensive survey of 35 European countries, Colin C. Williams and Ioana Alexandra Horodnic map the lived realities of the distribution and characteristics of dependent self-employment to challenge this broad and erroneous perception.
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Colin C. Williams and Ioana A. Horodnic

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Bernard Gazier

The Afterword questions the possibility that a new era of social dialogue is opening up in Europe. Self-employed professionals represent here a key stake, because they are skilled, they are mere workers and do not possess the traditional capital and assets of entrepreneurs, and they have been the most dynamic part of the workforce since the beginning of the century. They represent, in a context of enduring unemployment and precariousness in the European Union, one central way of developing employment and diversifying careers. However, they do not fit into the classical processes of social dialogue, which were devised and implemented for salaried workers many years ago. Starting from a traditional definition of social dialogue, and briefly showing the trends and challenges affecting it in the European union, the chapter considers the specific needs of these new workers, connected to the rich potential resources they could provide.

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The Challenges of Self-Employment in Europe

Status, Social Protection and Collective Representation

Edited by Renata Semenza and François Pichault

This book aims at explaining the variance in legal status, working conditions, social protection and collective representation of self-employed professionals across Europe. Despite considerable diversity, the authors observe three strategic models of mobilisation: the provision of services; advocacy, lobbying and the political role; and the extension of collective bargaining. They highlight the new urgent challenges that have emerged including the implementation of universal social protection schemes, active labour market policies likely to support sustainable self-employment, and the renewal of social dialogue through bottom-up organisations to extend the collective representation of project-based professionals.
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Laura Beuker, François Pichault and Frédéric Naedenoen

Chapter 5 provides a comparative analysis of the country studies on self-employed professionals presented in Chapter 4, by explaining variances and convergences among European countries, and aspects of continuity or discontinuity with the past. A common cross-country feature is that self-employed workers benefit from weaker social rights than regular employees. Thus, the chapter tries to answer the question whether self-employed workers are going to receive better social protection. Three degrees of social protection for the self-employed are identified across Europe. However, in order to reach an appropriate understanding of the complex and fragmented dynamics occurring in the European labour market, the chapter suggests a multidimensional interpretative approach is appropriate. This has to combine structural dimensions (e.g. a regulatory framework, an industrial relations system, economic development, cultural openness vis-à-vis new work arrangements, socio-demographic characteristics) with agency factors (e.g. institutional entrepreneurship, strategies emanating from unions, quasi-unions and labour market intermediaries) and political reforms.

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Manuela Samek Lodovici, François Pichault and Renata Semenza

Chapter 7 takes up the most relevant results that emerged in the various contributions of the book and underlines that the rise in the share of self-employed professionals has not yet been accompanied by a structural revision of the regulatory framework. There is a lack of comprehensive reform design regarding legal recognition and regulation, social protection systems and industrial relation models, which still need to be adapted to the new emerging demands. The challenges posed by new employment trends ask for new tailored and focused policy responses to support the equal treatment of workers, whatever their status. Among the many options assessed in the recent debate, the adoption of a universal rights approach, whatever the status and employment relationship, appears the most appropriate to address current and future trends in employment patterns. Fair working and payment conditions, standardized access to social rights (e.g. maternity and parental leaves, health insurance, safety at work), professional recognition and lifelong learning should transcend employment status and relationships with particular employers.