Quo vadis, Social Partnership? An Academic Perspective in Balancing Transitional Interests..

Proclaimed dead by some yet invoked as a pillar of the state by others: Is Austria’s social partnership at stake?

Is Austria’s social partnership still relevant to the times? And what kind of reforms would be necessary? Researchers at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, the Research and Consulting Center for the World of Work (FORBA) in Vienna, and the University of Roskile in Denmark are studying these questions.

Nine scholars created the Arbeitskreis Sozialpartnerschaft (www.jku.at/institut-fuer-soziologie/forschung/arbeitskreis-sozialpartnerschaft) and are committed to conducting research about the historical development and current situation of social partnership in Austria from various disciplinary perspectives (political science, law, and sociology).

A new working paper is focusing on the current status and the potential direction that could support and further develop the institution of employee/employer balance. Ranging from the AMS algorithm to migration policy, there is a foray of social integration and conflict regulation, but not just in Austria.



  • Susanne Pernicka (JKU): Sozialpartnerschaftliche Antworten auf digitale Plattformunternehmen im Personentransportsektor

New companies, such as Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify), aim to compete with traditional cab companies. The paper shows how the social partnership could contribute in this area in order to define the conditions for fair competition.


  • Georg Adam (FORBA Vienna): Wandel des Machtverhältnisses zwischen Gewerkschaften und ihrem einflusspolitischen Gegenüber (Unternehmen, Arbeitgeberverbände, Politik)

Since the start of the 90s, we can observe an empirical shift in the balance of power between unions and companies in almost all highly developed nations resulting in a disadvantage for employees. How have unions responded?


  • Vera Glassner (Sociologist in Vienna): Kollektivvertragspolitik im österreichischen Metallsektor

Wage negotiations in Austria’s metal sector have always been considered trend-setting. However, for trade unions, attaining a uniform wage agreement in the metals sector is increasingly becoming a Herculean feat. Will the social partners be able to shape change or will employee representation in the long run continue to be marginalized even more?


  • Bettina Stadler (FORBA): Transnationale betriebliche Mitbestimmung

Many structures as part of the Austrian system of company and supra-company co-determination are traditionally anchored, both in politics as well as in an increasingly trans-nationalized economy. How important is the social partnership to Austrian companies when they are involved in transnational value chains or if re-locating sections of the company abroad?


  • Ursula Rami (JKU): Rollenverständnis und Aufgabenprofil von Betriebsrät*innen: Schutzfunktion und/oder Gestaltungsfunktion (Co-Management)

Although the co-determination system is widely accepted in Austria and Germany, over the past two decades. sociologists studying labor have begun seeing "cracks in the foundation". Academic interviews indicate just how works council members and company management representatives feel about the importance of the works council in today’s day and age.


  • Elias Felten (JKU): Zur Bedeutung der Sozialpartner bei der Gestaltung des Arbeitszeitrechts im Lichte der AZG-Novelle 2018

The question as to how long - and to what extent - employees should work (and at what price) not only impacts productivity and the quality of life, it is becoming increasingly important in regard to economic policy. How have the changes in the Working Hours Act affected the social partnership?


  • Eduard Müller (JKU): Digitalisierung in der Arbeitsmarktverwaltung – Der „AMS-Algorithmus“ als Bewährungsprobe für die Arbeitnehmer*innenvertretung

Coming to terms with digitalization in the administration of the Austrian labor market, particularly the "AMS algorithm", has been much talked about. Against a backdrop of historically high unemployment figures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, using AI is also up for discussion in this sensitive area, not least due to critical objections at both a national and an international level.


  • Torben Krings (JKU): Sozialpartnerschaft und Migrationspolitik

This article focuses on the changing significance of social partnership interest policy by example of Austria’s migration policy. Based on two case studies in regard to the Red-White-Red Card and asylum migration, we see that a declining influence by social partners in this field of policy, but not in the same way as for employers and employees.


  • Thomas Paster (Universität Roskilde): Sozialpartnerschaft und Arbeitgeber*innenverbände in Österreich

When compared internationally, the Austrian Economic Chamber has a distinct understanding of its role as a social partner. However, reduced government support for the social partnership and a changed membership structure make other forms of political influence more attractive for employers today.

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