The reason for aiming at a system of European Industrial Relations based on a mix of direct and representative participation at firm level
Fondazione Istituto per il Lavoro Fondazione Istituto per il Lavoro Bologna, Italy
One of the new managerial trend in Europe is the implementation of scheme of direct participation. Direct participation is a very ambiguous concept as well as practice. Different models of participation have to be understood in their historical and sociological context and in this historical phase the initiator is the management and its interest is to mobilise the human potential of the work force ? creativity, ingenuity, flexibility, etc. ? but, at the same time, to reduce the role of Unions at the plant level. This is a faked kind of participation. There are still different situations based on the possibility for employees, normally through collective action and means, of regulation over employment rights that may otherwise be restricted or denied to them in a free market system. In these cases there are experimental models of a mixed participation. Direct participation aims to mobilise the human potential, letting the work force to have a say on the way the work process is designed and implemented; and the representative participation aims at the definition of the social regulation of work. These situations don?t represent the mainstream in Europe today notwithstanding a clear empirical evidence on the success of these models. The paper will discuss which kind of obstacles prevent the spreading of this positive trend and which strategies of the different social actors can help to overcome its and to establish a new European model.