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New forms of employment and working time in the service economy (NESY)

country case studies conducted in five service sectors

Steffen Lehndorff og Emmanuel Mermet

Brussels, ETUI, 2001, 290 s. ; ISBN 2-930143-78-9
Bogomtale fra forlaget.

Background and Objectives

The subject of research in NESY was the change in the organisation of work and working-time in the service sector. The entire complex of employment relationships is undergoing fundamental changes; particular emphasis in the project was laid on new forms of employment and working-time.

The project covered 10 EU countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It combined quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as micro and macro approaches. The qualitative - and bigger - part of the project included case studies which should help to identify basic industry and activity-specific reasons for the change in forms of employment and working time in selected service industries and activities as well as in various country clusters. It spanned a broad range of areas and consisted of around fifty case studies, involving five service segments and different country clusters. The focus of this work was on the customer interface in the following areas:

  • information technology (IT) services as an example of the "blurring boundaries" between dependent employment relationships and self-employment, including very long working hours of "knowledge workers";
  • the retail trade as an industry with largely adopted standardised working practices which is particularly exposed to the pressures of working time flexibility;
  • the health care segments (hospitals) as an example for the impacts of structural reforms in public services due to budget restrictions on employment and working practices;
  • the home-care business for the elderly as an example for a fast-growing service industry being fundamentally restructured by the developing competition between public and private care providers;
  • the banking trade in order to explore the impact of structural changes in international financial markets under the conditions of different national regulations on working conditions and working-time organisation in local branches and call centres.

The quantitative part included the evaluation of European Labour Force Survey data relating to the change in employment and working time in the service sector, also portraying the background of different routes taken by EU countries on their way into the service society.

NESY case studies:

  • IT services: country reports on Finland (Anttila/Nätti), Denmark (Csonka/Boll), Great Britain (Smith), the Netherlands (Plantenga/Remery) and Germany (Voss-Dahm). In each country IT companies were visited that have their core-business in the field of systems development, analysis and software services. The case studies included small as well as large IT firms. In four countries we had access to the same global company. The summary report was compiled by Janneke Plantenga and Chantal Remery, who also coordinated the research.
  • Retail trade: country reports on Finland (Anttila/Nätti), Sweden (Anxo/Nyman), Denmark (Boll), Germany (Haipeter), France (Jany-Catrice/Pernod-Lemattre) and Portugal (Castro/Figueiredo/González). Two case studies were carried out for each country, one in a hypermarket/self-service supermarket and one in a clothing store; these included two European clothing chains. Steffen Lehndorff coordinated the research and compiled the summary report together with Florence Jany-Catrice.
  • Banking: country reports on Germany and France by Thomas Haipeter and Martine Pernod-Lemattre, who also compiled the joint summary report. Two banks, each with one branch and a direct bank, were examined in each country.
  • Hospitals: country reports on Sweden (Anxo/Nyman), Great Britain (Rubery/Smith/Caroll), the Netherlands (Plantenga/Remery), Belgium (Plasman/Lumen), France (Piovesan) and Italy (Villa/Zeni). The research teams in each country conducted surveys in two public hospitals and more specifically in two departments: Gynaecology & Obstetrics and Orthopaedics. The population surveyed was that of medical care staff other than doctors, i.e. nurses, nursing assistants and midwives. The summary report was compiled by Christophe Baret, who also coordinated the research.
  • Home care for the elderly: country reports on Finland (Anttila/Nätti), Sweden (Anxo/Nyman), Denmark (Csonka/Boll), Great Britain (Fagan/Nixon), the Netherlands (Plantenga/van Everdingen/Remery) and Italy (Degasperi/Villa). Two local organisations providing home care for the elderly were surveyed in each case. Dominique Anxo coordinated the research and compiled the summary report together with Colette Fagan.