In modern societies, paid work usually takes place in organisations. Organisations not only provide workplaces but also function as independent social structures. And they are actors in their own right, whose behaviour impacts on and transforms work, working conditions and labour markets as well as economic relations in general. At the same time, organisations are embedded in institutional structures that regulate work and employment and shape their behaviour. We regard organisations as both locations of strategic action and as social structures.

Within the organisation or enterprise, work organisation is changing continuously. Technological advancements not only impact on the way tasks are carried out but also on the division of labour within the job and within the enterprise, on forms of cooperation between workers as well as on methods of performance appraisal, monitoring and control by management. Organisations also undergo transformation by outsourcing production and service processes, by introducing forms of cooperation beyond organisational boundaries and by means of relocation. An adequate sociological view of (work) organisations thus includes changes in governance structures, value chains above the company level and both regional and international networks.

A number of framework conditions at the institutional level of the nation state, the European and the global level influence enterprise strategies and human-resource policies. However, these contexts are continuously changing as well. Keywords include: flexibility, de- and re-regulation, and an increasingly European approach. The interaction of institutions and organisations as well as their transformation thus is the main subject of comparative organisational research.

Issues/Topics covered

We look at the level of the organisation in two ways: in terms of work organisation and division of labour and in terms of the organisation as a social structure. Our main research topics closely correspond to recent developments impacting on the world of work:

  • the expanding service sector
  • project work and spatially distributed work
  • forms of cooperation and coordination in value chains
  • use of information and communication technologies
  • changing working hours and patterns of time use at work

Topics of current projects include the restructuring of value chains and the evolution of new forms of organisation in the service sector. These projects are part of comparative international studies of working conditions and the transformation of workers' participation in the global economy.

Researchers involved:

Completed projects