On a daily basis we see in the news escalated conflicts in organizations. Downsizing, layoffs and changes in working conditions often given rise to heated debates, and actions. Social dialogue turns into fights, unilateral decisions by organizations and actions by employees and unions, including strikes.
Strike of cleaning staff at Barcelona Airport, September 2017.
The EC promotes social dialogue and also promotes constructive interventions in case of conflict. EC member states offer different third party interventions and mediation services to solve these conflicts. The EC promotes mediation and other forms of non-judicial conflict resolution in organizations.
However, there is a lack of knowledge about
(a) the actual functioning of third party/ mediation services in collective conflicts;
(b) the conditions to promote the use of mediation;
(c) the antecedents of effective mediation interventions.
Specially for collective labor conflicts, the structuring of third party support and mediation services in itself are important elements of social dialogue. Partners feel the need to innovate social dialogue to meet the current needs of a changing labor system (Munduate et al, 2012; Euwema et al, 2015). One of the essential components in this innovation is providing support to social partners at organizational level, especially when negotiations are stuck, agreements cannot be reached, or rights are not respected, and conflict escalation might occur.
Different EC member states have different traditions in providing such mediation assistance. This might be referred to as facilitations, mediation or also arbitration. However, actual knowledge on how this functions and how to further develop these mechanisms, lacks.
Are the structures adequate, accessible, and acceptable to conflicting parties in collective organizational conflicts? How do the formal structures relate to the use of independent consultants offering facilitation and mediation services? What are limitations to the use of mediation, and how can ‘preventive mediation’ be used to de-escalate in an early stage conflicts within organizations between management and labor? These questions are at the heart of further development of social dialogue in Europe, and this study aims to compare the experiences in different member states, in a search for good practices, inspiring social partners and governments of member states to promote mediation, both as prevention and conflict intervention.
23 September 2017
"The Dublin-based airline could find its low-cost model under threat from a nascent insurrection among pilots and cabin crew, as the rostering snafu brings a simmering rancour bubbling to the surface.
Now pilots across Europe have begun to talk about industrial action, some joining unions and others gathering in informal collectives. They sense that for the first time in decades, their position is stronger than that of their employer."
09 July 2017
The NEIRE team presented and debated findings from our research at the International Association for Conflict Management congress of 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The following two session were carried out by the team and important expert collaborators:
Soft Powers in Hard Battles: Mediation in Collective Conflicts.
Viemose, S., Bollen, K., Aaldering, H., Glaesser, U., Carnevale, P., Garcia, A., Pender, E., Euwema, M.C
Should the mediator best use a transformative, problem solving or even evaluative approach in collective conflicts? Do soft powers, such as empathy and trust, help to find creative solutions, and are these still helping in conflicts where agents dominate the actions? In this round table format we explore mediators’ soft powers in hard battles.
25 September 2017
Conflicts are part of nature and certainly part of human relations, between individuals, as well as within and between groups. Conflict management, therefore, is an essential competency for each person. In most situations, fostering cooperative relations will be most beneficial; however, this is also most challenging. Therefore, constructive conflict management strategies, including trust building and methods of constructive controversy, are emphasized. Conflict management, however, is broader than the interaction of the conflicting parties. Third-party interventions are an essential element of constructive conflict management, particularly the assessment of which parties are intervening in what ways at what escalation stage.Download (reciprocity trust in management.pdf)
01 August 2017
Organizations, both in private and public sector, nowadays face major challenges and pressures for change. Changes with often high impact on employees and their working conditions. This puts the employment relations between management and workers to the test. The way how they manage the inevitable tensions and conflicts of interest related to change, is the central focus of this book, in particular the trust and repair of trust between management and employees, and their representatives. How conflicts in organizational industrial relations get shape and are resolved varies from highly destructive to constructive and innovative. In this chapter we start with several examples of this diversity, we explore some of the major challenges in organizations, and give an overview of the chapters in this volume.
01 July 2017
Promoting Social Dialogue in European Organizations. Human Resources Management and Constructive Conflict Management.
Based on the NEIRE model for industrial relations, key factors are determined contributing to creative social dialogue in European organizations. Actual data from surveys and interviews from more than 700 CEO and HR managers in eleven European countries give insights in the experiences with and expectations of employers of social dialogue. The volume offers a comprehensive introduction to the historical context and current situation in social dialogue in these countries. Using good practices from many organizations, this book offers an agenda for innovative and cooperative social dialogue in organizations.
01 June 2017
The Tower of Power. Constructive Conflict Management through Social Dialogue in Organisations.
Written with the findings from the second NEIRE project exploring employer's attitudes and perceptions about employee representatives in Europe, this report presents such findings and highlights good practices.
By doing so, we want to recognize the constructive cooperation which takes place. We also want to inspire employers and ERs, at national, sectorial and in particular at organizational level, to invest in social innovations and constructive social dialogue.
This report is available in 10 languages for download.Download (GPP English Final.pdf)
08 March 2017
Relations between employers, trade unions and employees in Europe are rapidly changing. New competitive demands for organizations, the globalization process and economic turbulence, new technologies and growing diversity in work forces are leading to new organizational conflicts in which employee representatives (ERs) play a central role. ERs are confronted with new challenges. How should the ERs be empowered to negotiate flexible, fair and innovative labour relations? This was the central question addressed in the study carried out by the New European Industrial Relations (NEIRE) network, in which researchers from eight European countries conducted three different field studies with ERs and other field experts. The participating countries represent differen industrial relations traditions in Europe. These countries are: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.Download (Handbook I. Ten Steps for Empowering Empoyee Representatives in the NEIRE.pdf)
22 December 2016
This document is a master thesis from the Master in Human Resources (University of Seville, Spain). The author try to explain how the Job demands resources model (Demerouti, 2001 & Bakker et al., 2003) can be applied to the Shop Stewards role. This work is divided in three parts, in the first part the author explains the union system and his norms in Spain; in the second one she review the Job Demands - Resources Model, and in the last one she present the project Dialogue at Work, his goals, method and the model of some hypothesis. These hypotheses will be studied with the data we are collecting in Spain and other European countries who participate in this project.
The NEIRE team is formed by researchers and practitioners from a great variety of European countries and disciplines. All share an interest in applied research in organizations and conflict management. The team brings together experts from psychology, sociology, management and industrial relations.
The team is currently working on their third European project. All are related to the promotion of healthy and innovative labor relations, including social dialogue. The team has published several handbooks and organized many events.
After having studied the views of employee representatives in the first project, and the views of management in the second project, we are now exploring collective labour mediation in Europe to be able to gain insights on the relationship between these two parties and one of the systematic ways of solving their conflicts at organizational level.
Ana Belén García is a PhD candidate at the University of Seville (US) and KU Leuven. Her focus is on conflict management in organizations. After studying psychology at the US, she obtained her MSc at Maastricht University in work and organizational psychology. She is also a registered mediator. She was member of the coordination team of a European research project on industrial relations and currently coordinates a European project on mediation in collective organizational conflicts. Among other international publications she is also co-editor of the handbook: Promoting social dialogue in European organizations.
Erica Pender is a PhD candidate at KU Leuven and the University of Seville in the department of Work and Organizational Psychology. Her focus is on the role of trust in social dialogue. After studying psychology at the University of Seville, she obtained her MSc at Maastricht University in the specialization of Work and Organizational Psychology. She was a member of the coordination team of the European research project “New European Industrial Relations (NEIRE): Expectations of Employers on Employee Representatives’ Roles, Attitudes, and Competencies to Act as Partners in Social Innovation”. Among other international publications she is also co-editor of the handbook “Promoting social dialogue in European organizations. Human Resources management and Constructive Conflict Behavior”, The Netherlands: Springer Verlag, 2015.
Francisco J. Medina is Professor of Organizational Social Psychology and Director of the Office for Cooperation and Development at the University of Seville (Spain). He is the chair (with Lourdes Munduate) of the Doctoral Program on Human Resources at Social Psychology Department, which has received the Quality Mention by ANECA (Ministry of Education) from 2002 to 2012.
He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Seville examining the Self-efficacy and Effectiveness of Conflict Management.
Martin C. Euwema is full professor in organizational psychology at KU Leuven (Belgium). Co-director of the Leuven center for collaborative management and chair of the research group occupational and organizational psychology and professional learning (02L). He is past president of the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM). Martin’s interests are conflict management and mediation, organizational change and (international) leadership. He has a wide experience as consultant and mediator.
Patricia Elgoibar is post-doctoral researcher at the University of Barcelona. Previously she has worked as assistant professor in negotiation and academic director of the MSc in International Business Negotiation at IESEG School of Management (Paris). She has published research papers and books in the contexts of industrial relations, conflict management, trust, gender equality, and social dialogue. She works in the coordination team of the research project funded by the European Commission: “New European industrial relations (NEIRE): Mediation System effectiveness for collective organizational conflicts: A comparative study in Europe”.
Dr. Lourdes Munduate is full professor of organizational psychology at the University of Seville (Spain) and chair of the Spanish Research Agency for Psychology. She has researched and written extensively on topics concerning conflict management, negotiation, power dynamics, and employment relations. Recent books of which she is co-editor include Promoting Social Dialogue in European organizations (Springer, 2015), Building Trust and Constructive Conflict Management in Organizations (Springer, 2016), and Advancing Workplace Mediation through integration of theory and practice (Springer, 2016).
Barbara Kożusznik is Full Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology in the Chair of Work and Organizational Psychology, Institute of Psychology of University of Silesia and Director of the School of Management, University of Silesia; 2005–2012 ViceRector for Students’ Affairs, International Cooperation and Promotion at the University of Silesia; Editor Management and Information Technology, Editorial board of the Polish Journal of Applied Psychology and Chowanna. She has published over 100 publications – 38 books and over 90 articles and invited chapters on social influence in organizations, psychological conditionings of innovativeness, applications of psychology in management, work team management and WOP psychologists’ competencies development.
Tijs Besieux is visiting professor at the University of Leuven and IÉSEG School of Management (Paris). He studied organizational psychology at the University of Leuven and wrote his doctorate thesis on leadership, team dynamics and performance in the financial sector. Tijs is managing director of the Leuven Centre for Collaborative Management and teaches at the IESEG School of Management and Schouten & Nelissen University. He deepened his interest in the operation of organizations on the basis of executive degrees in business economics (Antwerp Management School) and mediation (Harvard University). Tijs acts as scientific consultant for several international organizations, with a particular focus on transformation projects in the financial sector.
Valeria Pulignano is Professor in Sociology of Labor and Industrial Relations at the Centre for Sociological Research (CESO) at the Faculty of Social Science – KU Leuven. She is also Associate Fellow at the Industrial Relations Research Unit (IRRU), IROB at the University of Warwick (UK) and co-researcher of the "Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work" (CRIMT) at the University of Montreal (Canada).
Research interests include comparative European industrial relations, European economic and political integration, social dialogue, systems of employee participation and workers’ representation at both national and European level, trade union organization, labor markets and flexibility, industrial restructuring and work organization. She is currently involved in comparative research on flexibility and security at the company level within multinationals in Europe. She has been working widely on the transfer of employment practices in multinational companies and union representation in Europe. She has been working on a European projects on social dialogue, transnational restructuring and industrial relations, the transformation of work and employment relations in Europe.
Valeria Pulignano is co-author of Flexibility at Work (2011) with Palgrave MacMillan and of The Transformation of Employment Relations in Europe. Institutions and Outcomes in the Age of Globalisation (2013) with Routledge .
Mare Teichmann is Professor and Chair of Psychology at Tallinn University of Technology.
She holds a PhD in Psychology from the Behterev Institute Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg.
She is member of many boards and councils, especially in the academic self-administration
of her special area of Work and Organizational Psychology. Her current positions include
membership in the WHO Quality of Life Board, chairwoman of the WHO Estonian Quality
of Life Centre and Estonian representative, member of European Network of Work and
Organizational Psychology, an elected member of Work and Organizational Psychology
Standing Committee of the European Federation of Psychology Associations and since 2011,
director of Industrial Psychology Institute at TUT.
Her main area of research is Occupational Stress and Quality of Life (including
Occupational Life Quality). She also is a pioneer in e-learning solutions in Estonia.
Ana M. Passos is Professor in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior in ISCTE (Lisboa-Portugal). She obtained her PhD in Social and Organizational Psychology in the ISCTE – IUL in 2005.
Her current research interest focuses on the social psychological mechanism underlying team processes and performance in different organizational contexts. More specifically, she has been studying how team composition affects intragroup conflict and objective and subjective performance using a time-based perspective. Other research issues that she is interested in are team diversity measurement; team performance as a dynamic construct; team leadership; team training and development; and quality of work life.
Aurélien Colson PhD MBA is Associate Professor of Political Science at ESSEC Business School, and Director of the Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation (IRENE Paris, Singapore & Brussels). He holds a doctorate in political science (University Paris-Descartes) and a PhD in International Relations (University of Kent).
His research in negotiation and mediation appears in peer-reviewed journals. He authored, edited or co-authored several books, translated into 9 languages. In 2008, he was awarded a Grand Prix by the French Académie des sciences morales et politiques. Latest book: International Negotiation: Foundations, Models, and Philosophies, edited by A. Colson, D. Druckman & W. Donohue (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters, 2013). He has run negotiation missions in over 30 countries, for companies and international organizations. He contributes also to post-conflict mediation efforts, and has been elected twice by leading NGOs to the Steering Committee of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (Brussels). He coordinates negotiation trainings for the European Commission, the European External Action Service, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the French Ecole Nationale d’Administration. He also served as Advisor to the French Prime Minister (1998-2002).
Andrea Caputo is Senior Lecturer in Strategy at the Lincoln Business School of the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom. He has formerly served as Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, in Jordan from 2013 to 2015. Dr. Caputo received his PhD in Management in 2013 from the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, School of Economics, in Italy. He has also been, in 2015, Visiting Faculty Member at the University of Queensland Business School, and, in 2012, Visiting Scholar at The George Washington School of Business. Since 2014, he has been serving as Regional Representative for Italy & South Europe at the International Association for Conflict Management.
Katalien Bollen works as assistant professor at the University of Maastricht (department: Educational Research and Development). She obtained a PhD in psychology at the University of Leuven (Belgium) entitled: Mediation in hierarchical labor conflicts. Currently, she coordinates the research project “Old and Out?” focusing on the informal learning (of ageing employees) and its impact on sustainable employability. Het research focuses on conflict management, the use of online tools in conflict resolution, power, teamwork as well as innovative work behaviour and sustainable employability. Katalien is also affiliated to the University of Leuven, Fellow of the Leuven Centre for Collaborative Management (LCM) and involved in different executive master's programs on mediation, both nationally and internationally. Katalien is a trained and certified mediator.
Hans Jørgen Limborg works as research manager in Team Arbejdsliv a private research and consulting institution. He acts as manager on several projects on development of organizations and management strategies with special emphasis on the combination of the development of human resources, working environment and preventive maintenance.
In addition, he has research experience as well as practical consulting experience from research aimed at small enterprises and public institutions. He’s research has special emphasis on implementing occupational health and safety and environmental protection in management strategies, creation of internal cooperation based prevention capability and on development of implementation and dissemination strategies aimed at small businesses and welfare institutions.
Søren Viemose is private consultant, specialized in Constructive Negotiation Methods. He has written several books on negotiation and had worked extensively with Labor Negotiations, negotiation advising, salary, sales, collective bargaining, conflict management and mediation.
He has worked in the Management Consulting Industry as specialist in negotiations and conflict resolutions and since 2005 is the owner of the Kalovig Center, a negotiation venue in the north of Arhus, Denmark.
Kristina Potočnik graduated in psychology at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and received her PhD in Work and Organizational Psychology from the University of Valencia (Spain).
She is a chartered member of British Psychological Society (BPS), an academic associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and a member of International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), the International Test Commission (ITC), European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP), and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).
NEW EUROPEAN INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS (NEIRE) I:
EMPOWERING EUROPEAN WORKER REPRESENTATIVES TO NEGOTIATE FLEXIBLE, FAIR AND INNOVATIVE LABOUR RELATIONS
Relations between employers, trade unions, and employees in Europe are rapidly changing. The new competitive demands for organizations, the globalization process and economic turbulence, new technologies and growing diversity in work forces are leading to new organizational conflicts in which Employee Representatives (ERs) play a central role. Given the context of organizational conflicts, and the tendency towards individualization of labour relations and union decline, the ER’s role is confronted with new challenges in the framework of the European Industrial Relation system.
The overall aim of the New European Industrial Relations (NEIRE) project is to improve the quality of social dialogue as a tool for innovation, first, by empowering European ERs, and second, by exploring European employers’ experiences and expectations on structures, roles, attitudes and competencies of ERs.
A first study was conducted between 2010 and 2012 cofounded by the European Commission Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities DG (Project Ref. VS/2010/0376) the Spanish Ministry of Science (Project Ref. PSI 2008/00503 and PSI 2011/29256) and the partner organizations. Its main focus was to explore how to empower ERs. This study includes quantitative data from more than 2300 ERs and qualitative data from 80 interviews with ERs from 8 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (Munduate, Euwema, & Elgoibar, 2012).
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACTION
The aim of this action is to enhance the expertise of ERs. The general objectives are:
Therefore, the action involves an organizational and individual approach. From an organizational perspective, ERs play a critical role in shaping and mediating the relationship between managers and their co-workers. However, in recent years there has been a decrease of ERs´ power within organizations (Edwards, 2008, called it the “representation gap”), mainly due to the increase of an individualistic approach to employment relationships or idiosyncratic deals, “I-deals” is the term coined by Rousseau (2005). This implies that the ER’s role needs to be adapted to the new circumstances, to occupy a powerful position in the decision-making process. With the main goal of making ERs able to achieve an influential role in organizational decisions, we consider the following topics in this study: flexibility in negotiation, employability, corporate social responsibility, partnership relations and trust (with management and co-workers).
From an individual perspective, ERs need to increase their ability to manage conflict (with management and co-workers); identify and negotiate new organizational arrangements, retaining the dignity and well-being for themselves and their co-workers. In order to prevent workers from becoming passive recipients and make them constructively engaged in the structural processes, ERs have to improve their competences and promote union innovation, nurture the attraction and commitment with unions, bolster their influence, and manage personal role conflicts and stress as ERs.
European Union has established its ambition to be an innovative and flexible economy and this requires new methods of collective negotiation at an organizational level. In particular, ERs are expected to negotiate more flexible arrangements which meet the individual needs of workers. This requires new and more complex skills and competences from ERs. Therefore, to implement improvement strategies and empower ERs, a Best Practices Program (BPP) has been designed together with experts in IR and stakeholders in the action: ERs, trade union leaders, management representatives, policy makers and academics
In that sense, this action benefits both the ERs and the organizations, as well as the rest of IR actors in the following ways:
Two publications available in this website present the key findings and recommendations from this action: