The Politics of Flexibility: Employment Practices in Automotive Multinationals in Central and Eastern Europe

TitleThe Politics of Flexibility: Employment Practices in Automotive Multinationals in Central and Eastern Europe
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsDrahokoupil, Jan, Myant, Martin, and Domonkos, Stefan
JournalEuropean Journal of Industrial Relations
Volume21
Issue4
Keywordsautomotive sector, Central and Eastern Europe, Czech Republic, employment relations, flexibility, Hungary, multinational companies, Slovakia
Abstract

This paper investigates flexibility strategies of automobile producers in nine assembly subsidiaries in three Central and Eastern Europe Countries (CEECs). The organization of employment flexibility is an important concern for car makers, as well as for their employees. In CEECs, employment flexibility has become the major employment relations question, and is an area of conflict with unions. Analyzing the processes through which incoming MNCs established their labor flexibility strategies also demonstrates how they coped with the established legal and employment relations environments in the region. This analysis draws on a comparative case study approach, based on information obtained from published sources and semi-structured interviews with management and trade unions, to analyze these processes in nine automobile assembly subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. The argument here is that the flexibility strategies were shaped by parent-company flexibility practices, the flexibility needs of individual affiliates, and the relative strength of labor in negotiating the implementation of these practices in the affiliates. Given the relatively weak industrial relations institutions in the region, the relative strength of labor is conditioned primarily by market factors and parent-company contexts. The findings thus highlight the importance of political resources and agency of actors in the MNCs in shaping the employment policies.

URLhttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2454669