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Title: Conflict at work and external dispute settlement : a cross-country comparison
Author: Schulze-Marmeling, Sebastian
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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The focus of both academic and public debate on the expression of work-related conflict has long been focused on strikes. Substantial declines in collective disputes have been associated with more harmonious and less conflict-laden employment relations. This research deals with another, often forgotten form in which conflict is manifested, namely the settlement of individual conflicts through labour courts or employment tribunals. Its aim is to explore and explain differences in application rates to national judicial bodies both across countries and over time. Using a novel database on 23 European Union Member States, it is found that a substantial degree of variance exists; claim rates across Europe differ substantially, and countries have developed along different lines. The explosion of court applications is found to be exceptional, and stability or volatility is identified in the large bulk of EU Member States. In order to explain cross-sectional and time differences, the research draws on wide range of literature, develops a new procedural concept of conflict, and proposes a comparative neo-institutionalist framework accounting for both institutions and actors. The theoretical discussion elaborates three sets of arguments to predict claim incidence. First, it is argued that the existence of comprehensive collective industrial relations institutions, particularly employee workplace representation and collective agreements, tend to reduce the frequency of labour court claims. Second, the amount and complexity of employment regulation is argued to have an impact on the incidence of court applications. Finally, cyclical economic conditions and individual characteristics of the potential grievant are expected to predict the phenomenon. Empirical evidence is presented from a range of different data sources, such as national administrative data and large-scale surveys for three country case studies on France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Findings support that all three sets of explanations contribute to the explanation of the incidence of labour court claims. Moreover, data seem to confirm the need for an interdisciplinary approach drawing on different bodies of literature.
Supervisor: Waddington, Jeremy; Walden, Roger Sponsor: Manchester Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Conflict at work ; Comparative Industrial Relations ; Employment law ; Behavioural economics ; Employment tribunals ; Labour courts