Sunday, November 8, 2009

Call for Papers: Int'l Conference on Employee Representation in New World of Work

Acri Christian Brunelle (Université Laval (Québec)) writes to tell us of the call for papers for the upcoming conference Employee Representation in the New World of Work: The Dynamics of Rights, Voice, Performance and Power.  Jointly organized by the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work ( and the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA), the conference will take place in Quebec City on June 16th, 17th and 18th, 2010. Deadline for submission is November 15, 2009.  Here's a complete description:

CrimtThe world of work is changing and this has tremendous implications for employee representation. Workplaces are continuously reconfigured through new information technologies and the transnational organization of production and services, economic globalization and financial crisis. Women’s labour market participation, labour migration and greater ethnic diversity are all changing the composition of workforces. New values regarding the relationships between work and career alter expectations about the balance between work and family life. The proliferation of different forms of employment is altering individuals’ relationships to their work and their life chances, increasing disparities between so-called “winners” and “losers”, with important repercussions for equality and opportunity in our societies. The search for competitive advantage through flexiblization and high-performance practices prompts some firms to enhance employee engagement, social dialogue and forms of partnership with their workforce while others seek to re-engineer or dispense entirely with employee representation.

These new realities are a challenge to traditional notions of employee representation. Crafted for the most part in the decades leading to the zenith of the industrial era (and 2010 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Wagner Act, which established some of the core tenets of employee representation in the United States and Canada), employee representation systems in the most industrialized countries were constructed on conceptions of paid full-time male employment, through the prism of Fordist work organization, in which collective representation at work, most often through unions and collective bargaining, would yield some blend of employee voice and organizational efficiency, and thereby enrich the quality of democracy in industrializing societies.
There are increasing questions about the access to and efficacy of existing forms of workplace representation, about the nature and affinity of the groups to be represented, about the possibility and coherence of grafting new rights onto older systems of representation, about disparities in voice regimes between public services and the private sector, about achieving both social and economic performance, and about the capacity of existing and emerging collective actors to negotiate these transitions, to deal with the challenges they face and to reconstruct systems of employee representation for this new world of work.

This diagnostic raises important questions for our understanding of the transformations of employee representation in comparative perspective.
  • What are the founding principles that contributed to the construction of different representative systems? Are the conditions that gave rise to them still relevant?
  • How do different types of employee representation regimes deal with key issues facing the contemporary workplace? What are the results for workers and their families, firms and their managers, governments and other societal stakeholders? 
  • What are the emerging models and actors for employee rights, voice and representation? What are the coherence, efficacy and potential power of these contending sources and systems? What are the actor strategies for dealing with them?
  • What kinds of public policy, actors, experimentation, strategies, capabilities, and research are necessary to rethink employee representation for this new world of work?
These and all other questions relevant to our understanding of the current and future dynamics of employee representation will be the focus of an international conference to be held from June 16th to 18th 2010 in Québec City, Canada. This conference is a special collaboration between the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work (CRIMT) and the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA-ACRI). CRIMT is committed to organize an “open architecture” international conference on employee representation in the new world of work as part of its Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada Major Collaborative Research Initiatives project (“Building Institutions and Capabilities for Work and Employment in a Global Era: The Social Dynamics of Labour Regulation”).  Since CIRA organizes an annual conference, it was decided that this special thematic conference will be its 47th annual CIRA conference. Other partners will also join this initiative.

The conference will take place at Laval University in the beautiful environment of Québec City. Presentations will be made in both English and French. Participants include researchers in various social science disciplines, those in charge of developing public policies and representatives of social actors and labour market partners including management, unions, legal advisers and other representative organizations. The conference is now open to multidisciplinary academic and practitioner proposals from industrial and employment relations, human resource management, labour and social law, labour studies, sociology of work and social science and other disciplines relevant to the study of work and employment.

Scholars interested in one or more of these questions (see the detailed identification of themes and questions at the end of this Call for Papers) are invited to submit an original paper proposal in English or French. The papers can be theoretical, analytical, empirical or policy-oriented. Priority will be given to studies which significantly contribute to the understanding of employee representation, either in a specific national context or from a comparative perspective. In the same perspective, we also encourage thematic proposals for workshops (four papers or three papers and a discussant) or symposiums (two linked workshops).

All proposals for this thematic call for papers, workshops and symposia should be submitted by November 15th, 2009 and will be subject to a competitive review by the Scientific Committee. Individual paper proposals should be a maximum of 2 pages and should outline the nature of the study, the methodological approach, and the main lines of analysis to be developed. The selected authors should submit a first draft of the full version of their paper by May 1, 2010, which will be made available at the time of the conference on a special Web site for participants. Workshop and Symposium proposals should be 3-5 pages in length and include details on the contribution as a whole, on each contribution (see details on papers proposals above) and on the institutional affiliations of the participants. All proposals should be sent by electronic mail to: Nicolas Roby, CRIMT Scientific Coordinator at the following address: For further updates on the conference organization, check or

Important Note: In addition to this main thematic call for papers, workshops and symposia for this joint CIRA-CRIMT conference on employee representation, there will be an additional Call for Contributions on other themes. These other contributions (papers and workshops) will be fully integrated into the conference program. The deadline for extra-thematic contributions is 15 January 2010 (see All proposals are subject to competitive review by the Scientific Committee.


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