The System Versus the Street: Employment and Contracting in the International Welfare-to-Work Industry
CERIC Working Paper No. 12
26 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 21, 2011
'Activating' the jobless – bringing them into or closer to paid work – has become a government-funded industry. What are the dynamics of employment relations in this sector, constituted as a mixed market of non-profit, for-profit, and public sector bodies? Drawing on in-depth qualitative research in the UK and Germany, we argue that there is a tension between two levels of bureaucracy: system-level policymaking and planning and street-level service provision. This tension creates varying interorganizational contracting arrangements, which shape the institutional regulation of work. Under ‘marketized’ contracting – i.e. relatively short-term, price-based, standardized, and open to many competitors – frameworks of collective bargaining and worker representation are relatively difficult to apply, leading in extreme cases to a low-wage precarious pattern of employment relations.
Keywords: welfare-to-work industry; comparative employment relations; contracting
JEL Classification: J50; M55
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation