The internationalisation of British and Spanish banks : implications for the existence and operation of European Works Councils
Within the context of the intemationalisation of business organisations and human resource practices, this thesis contributes to an enhanced understanding of the factors influencing the establishment and operation of European Works Councils (EWCs) in multinational companies. Specifically, the thesis examines EWCs in the banking sector, a sector whose EWCs have not previously been subject to a great deal of analysis. A cross-case comparison of four highly internationalised banks - HSBC and Lloyds TSB in the UK, and BSCH and BBV A in Spain - is undertaken. The thesis explores debates in the literature regarding the establishment and impact of EWCs. Theories based on the internationalisation of business strategies, structures and cross-border HR management are drawn on to build a novel integrated analytical framework, which identifies the factors likely to shape first the establishment/nonestablishment [sic] of EWCs and second their operation. Analysis of the specific cases is then carried out, based on extensive qualitative fieldwork in the case companies. The premise of the thesis is that the internationalisation of business operations and company/management organisation and structure are fertile ground for the internationalisation of management approaches to HR and employment practice. In turn, this suggests a promising future for EWCs. However, the analytical findings suggest a mismatch between the prospects for EWCs and the organisational reality of some 'European' multinational firms whose operations are strongly orientated towards other parts of the world. In particular, it is found that the non-existence of EWCs in the two most internationalised Spanish banks is strongly related to their internationalisation, whereby their international businesses, management structures and cross-border HR coordination are all heavily oriented towards Latin America. These factors are found to be key in shaping not only management but also trade union policy towards EWCs. The thesis also finds that such factors are central in shaping differences in the operation of the EWCs at two of the largest UK-based financial groups. The overall findings of the thesis suggest several potential avenues for further research and for consideration in revising the European Works Councils Directive.