Smuggling Flexibility: Temporary Working Contracts and the 'Implicit Threat' Mechanism

41 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2009 Last revised: 5 Dec 2013

Date Written: July 13, 2009


This paper deals with business and workplace management practices under the Post-Fordist production system. In particular, it focuses on firms’ ever-increasing search for flexibility – that is, ways of rapidly adjusting their activities to meet contingent business needs. This kind of flexibility is paramount in a system in which demand for goods and services is competition is incessantly pushing firms to reduce production costs. In these circumstances, firms have not only changed their production methods, but have also adopted new techniques of workforce management, significantly different from those which characterized the Fordist or Taylorist production systems. These techniques are challenging traditional categories of both employment law and industrial relations, which were constructed and construed with reference to the Fordist–Taylorist workplace.

Keywords: Labor Market Flexibility, Italian Labor Market, Relational Contracts Theory, Transaction Costs Theory, Temporary Working Contracts

JEL Classification: K31, K00, J40

Suggested Citation

De Stefano, Valerio, Smuggling Flexibility: Temporary Working Contracts and the 'Implicit Threat' Mechanism (July 13, 2009). Bocconi Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1433350, Available at SSRN: or

Valerio De Stefano (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Faculty of Law ( email )

Tiensestraat 41
Leuven, B-3000

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