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Research at the ‘Professur für Personalpolitik’

Our research program examines how firms manage human resources from an interdisciplinary and internationally comparative perspective. This research program is theory-driven, drawing on the ‘new institutionalism’ in organizational sociology and comparative institutional analysis to understand how business organizations are embedded within historical, social, and political contexts, as well as how these contexts develop and change over time.Theoretical work informs empirical study using both qualitative and quantitative research, as well as pioneering new methodologies, such as fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis.  By examining business firms and institutions as complex configurations, our research aims to better integrate understanding of how employment relations relate to wider constellations of strategic and governance factors.

Research at the ‘Professur für Personalpolitik’ will involve and link together four major themes:

  • international and comparative employment relations: how are the basic problems of managerial authority and the motivation of employees resolved in different societies? These themes will be explored with regard to the comparative institutional advantages and trade-off’s surrounding employment outcomes and practices, such as human resource management, work organization, productivity, and innovation, as well as issues surrounding patterns of income inequality, diversity, social integration and social exclusion. A comparative perspective will also be applied understanding the strategic decision making of multinational enterprises in terms of locating their activities and the specific management policies used to utilize human resources in disparate locations.
  • corporate governance: who controls the corporation?  How are the interests of various stakeholders, such as shareholders and employees, represented and how do these stakeholders exert influence on managerial decision making?  These themes will be explored with particular regard to different institutions of employee representation around the world, including the role of board-level codetermination, consultation through works councils, union organization, and less formalized forms of direct participation in the workplace. In addition, the research will contribute to new ‘theories of the firm’ that focus on the growing salience of human resources for the competitive advantage of firms within the ‘knowledge economy’.
  • corporate social responsibility: to what extent do corporations have wider social responsibilities? Is there a business case for the adoption of strategies and policies with higher social standards?  How do investors evaluate and reward social responsibility, or do concerns about responsibility damage corporate reputations?  These themes are explored with particular regard to multinational enterprises, and the application of international labour standards.
  • social inequality:  what role do corporations play in inequality-generating processes, such as exploitation or social closure, in different countries?  How has the global emulation of corporate practices contributed to cross-national trends in inequality?  These themes are explored drawing on relational theories of inequality in sociology, as well as theories on how organizations create intersectionality of social categories (e.g. gender, ethnicity, etc.).
Social-Economic Review
British Journal of Industrial Relations
Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics
Organized Creativity