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.