wECc - Work, Employment, Critique and Coordination

The world of work is a site of social, orga­niza­t­ional and personal changes. Various inte­rests come toge­ther and make it the subject of debate, nego­tia­tion and adjust­ment. The world of work is multi­fa­ceted and pres­ents itself differ­ently depen­ding on the parti­cular employ­ment situa­tion: in the heavy industry leisure time options become incre­a­singly popular lately; know­ledge workers are strugg­ling with an unbounded workload, new self-em­ployed and emer­gent orga­niza­t­ional forms navi­gate through a soci­o-­po­li­tical and legal gray area; the ques­tion of the meaning of work per se is at least in the media discourse to the fore. Poten­tial causes of these changes are reflected by buzz words such as the primacy of economic logics, tech­no­lo­giza­tion, globa­liza­tion, economic crises or subjec­tiviza­tion.

Orga­niza­t­ions and people react in many diffe­rent ways. Mostly, new expres­sions emerge, for example, campus-­like work­place archi­tec­ture that breaks up usual work patterns or more trans­pa­rency on the quality of employers through social media. Problems of employ­ment are publi­cally discussed and criti­cism or appre­cia­tion with regard to changed circum­stances is even­tually arti­cu­lated. The nego­tia­tion of new prac­tices, e.g. work time reduc­tion due to a new law, requires an agree­ment among stake­hol­ders about how things are done in the future. In order to make these mutual agree­ments, compro­mise and coor­di­na­tion skills are in demand. These agree­ments on joint action are sedi­ments of some­thing ‘more funda­mental’: They are based on exis­ting conven­tions, gene­rally accepted logics of action, and combined or refor­mu­lated with regard to the common good of all parties involved.

Conven­tion theory (EC, "Économie des Conven­tions") provides a new theo­re­tical perspec­tive on the emer­gence and change of conven­tions with special refe­rence to situa­tional circum­stances and how people deal with them. This perspec­tive inter alia addresses value systems and the evalua­tion of actions as well as their coor­di­na­tion, justi­fi­ca­tion and criti­cism. The center of gravity of wECc is there­fore: (1) to describe the process of situa­tional fit between actors and their inte­rests theo­re­ti­cally sound, explain and discuss it with respect to human resources manage­ment in the broa­dest sense, (2) to develop prac­tical, work and employ­ment policy recom­men­da­tions for a produc­tive inter­play of critique and coor­di­na­tion, (3) and to inte­grate this rese­arch focus into the curri­culum.