90899 - Comparative Labour Market Policies

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Roberto Rizza
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/09
  • Language: English

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide an overview of labor market policies, highlighting the main areas of intervention and the beneficiaries: employment protection legislation, income support, promotion of job opportunities and training, employment services. A comparative analysis of the evolution of labor policy regimes will be carried out with particular reference to current demographic, social and economic challenges, considering the influence of politics on labor market policies. At the end of the course the students will be able to: - have a knowledge of the main areas of intervention of labor market policies and their beneficiaries - identify and compare the different labor policy regimes - gain an expertise as regards to the definition and planning of active and passive labor market policies - recognize the current characteristics of the labor market and the employment system, the emerging risks and the related needs in terms of labor market policies - interpret the influence of politics in labor market policies

Course contents

The course is organized with a part of lectures taught online on MS TEAMS (20 hours) and another taught in presence (20 hours). The number of students allowed in class is determined on the basis of class capacity and by the health and safety provisions that deal with the pandemic emergency. In case more students want to attend classes in presence than permitted by the rules, a system of shifts will be organized so to allow students to participate. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS.

The course is divided in two parts: 1) industrial relations and  2) labour market policies, adopting a comparative and interdisciplinary approach. 

1) Industrial Relations (20 hours - Prof. Chiara Benassi)

The aim of this part of the course is to provide an overview of the main developments in industrial relations and the factors explaining them. The first section of the course provides an introduction to the main theoretical perspectives on comparative industrial relations. The second section discusses the role of industrial relations actors including unions, employers and the state. A third section analyses implications of different institutions of industrial relations for employees and their organisations as well as for macro-economic performance and inequalities. The fourth section discusses recent trends in industrial relations systems both at the national and the global level.

2) Labour market policies (20 hours - Prof. Roberto Rizza)

A first section is descriptive and provides information on labour market policies (definition, programs, analytical dimensions), a second depicts their evolution interpreting the emerging regimes in the vast international panorama. An explanatory third dimension identifies the causal mechanisms of institutional change.

The course will address the following topics:

- Labour market policies: definition, characteristics and comparative aspects

- Labour market policies: programs

- Labour market policies in Europe and the United States: from the origins till the 1990s

- The emerging regimes of labour market policies in the 2000s


Comparative Industrial Relations; Dimensions, Perspectives and Theories

Required readings:

Baccaro, L., & Howell, C. (2017). Arguing for Neoliberal Convergence, in Baccaro, L., & Howell, C., Trajectories of neoliberal transformation: European industrial relations since the 1970s, pp. 6-25, Cambridge University Press.

Frege, Carola, and John Kelly. (2020) Theoretical perspectives on comparative employment relations. Comparative employment relations in the global economy. Routledge, 9-28.

Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. (2001). An Introduction to Varieties of Capitalism, in Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. (eds.) Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, pp. 1-70, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Heery, E., Bacon, N., Blyton, P. and Fiorito, J. (2008) Introduction: The Field of Industrial Relations, The SAGE Handbook of Industrial Relations, 1-32

Morgan, G., & Hauptmeier, M. (2014). Varieties of institutional theory in comparative employment relations. Handbook of Employment Relations: Comparative Employment Systems, 190-221.

Wright, C. F., Bamber, G. J., Doellgast, V, Cooke, F.L. (2021) Introduction: internationally comparative approaches to studying employment relations. International & Comparative Employment Relations: Global Crises & Institutional Responses. 1-28.

Industrial Relations Actors

Required readings:

Bulfone, F., & Afonso, A. (2020). Business against markets: employer resistance to collective bargaining liberalization during the eurozone crisis. Comparative Political Studies, 53(5), 809-846.

Demougin, P, Gooberman, L, Hauptmeier, M, Heery, E. Employer organisations transformed. Human Resource Management Journal 2019; 29: 1– 16.

Gumbrell-McCormick, R., & Hyman, R. (2013). Mapping the terrain: varieties of industrial relations and trade unionism, in Trade unions in Western Europe: hard times, hard choices. Oxford University Press, pp. 29-51.

Howell C. Regulating class in the neoliberal era: the role of the state in the restructuring of work and employment relations. Work, Employment and Society. 2016;30(4):573-589

Hyman, R. (2008) The State in Industrial Relations, The SAGE Handbook of Industrial Relations, 258-83.

Kaine, Sarah (2014) Union Voice. The Handbook of Research on Employee Voice, Edward Elgar, 170-86.

Industrial relations and their outcomes

Required readings:

Appelbaum, Eileen, and John Schmitt. "Employment relations and economic performance." Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy. Routledge, 2013. 132-154.

Doellgast, Virginia, Ursula Holtgrewe, and Stephen Deery. "The effects of national institutions and collective bargaining arrangements on job quality in front-line service workplaces." ILR Review 62.4 (2009): 489-509.

Dorigatti L, Pedersini R. Industrial relations and inequality: the many conditions of a crucial relationship. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research. 2021;27(1):11-27.

Godard, John. "Work and employment practices in comparative perspective." Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy. Routledge, 2020. 117-138.

New developments in industrial relations

Required readings:

Anner M, Fischer-Daly M, Maffie M.(2021) Fissured Employment and Network Bargaining: Emerging Employment Relations Dynamics in a Contingent World of Work. ILR Review 74(3):689-714.

Donaghey, J., Reinecke, J., Niforou, C. and Lawson, B. (2015) ‘From Employment Relations to Consumption Relations: Balancing Labor Governance in Global Supply Chains”, Human Resource Management 53(2): 229-252.

Ibsen, C. L., & Tapia, M. (2017). Trade union revitalisation: Where are we now? Where to next?. Journal of Industrial Relations, 59(2), 170-191.

Meardi, G. (2018), Economic Integration and State Responses: Change in European Industrial Relations since Maastricht. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 56: 631-655.

Labour market policies: definition, characteristics, programs and comparative aspects

Required readings:

- Sjöberg O., Palme J., Carroll E. [2010], "Unemployment Insurance", in Castles F., Leibfried S., Lewis J., Obinger H., Pierson C., (eds) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press.

- Kenworthy L. [2010], "Labour Market Activation", in Castles F., Leibfried S., Lewis J., Obinger H., Pierson C., (eds) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford University Press.

- Hemerijck A., [2012], "Changing Welfare States", Oxford, Oxford University Press, (Chapter 2:The New Politics of the Welfare State Revisited)

Labour market policies in Europe and the United States: from the origins till the 1990s

Required readings:

- Palier B. (ed) [2010], A Long Goodbye to Bismarck?: The Politics of Welfare Reform in Continental Europe,Amsterdam University Press: selected chapters: Palier B. "Ordering Change. Understanding the Bismarkian Welfare Reform Trajectory"; Palier B. "The Long Conservative Corporatist Road to Welfare Reforms".

- Clasen, J., Clegg, D. (eds) [2011], Regulating the Risk of Unemployment: National Adaptation to Post-Industrial Labour Markets In Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press: selected chapters: J. Clasen and D. Clegg: "Unemployment Protection and Labour Market Change in Europe: Towards 'Triple Integration?"; G. Bonoli: "Active Labour Market Policies in a Changing Economic Context"; J. Clasen and D. Clegg: "The Transformation of Unemployment Protection in Europe"

The emerging regimes of labour market policies in the 2000s

Required readings:

- Hemerijck A., [2012], Changing Welfare States, Oxford, Oxford University Press: Chapter 3: "Challenges to Twenty-First Century Social Policy Provision"

- Vis B., [2010], Politics of Risk-taking: Welfare state reform in advanced democracies, Amsterdam University Press: Chapter 3:" Radical change or much ado about nothing?"

- Vlandas T. [2013], "Mixing apples with oranges? Partisanship and active labour market policies in Europe", in Journal of European Social Policy, 23(1)

- Thelen K. [2014], arieties of Liberalization and the New Politics of Social Solidarity, Cambridge University Press: Chapter 3: "Vocational Education and Training"; Chapter 4: "Labour Market Policy".

- Dolvik J., Martin A. [eds] [2015], European Social Models from Crisis to Crisis, Oxford, Oxford University Press: selected chapters: Carlin W. et al., "The Transformation of the German Social Model"; Le Cacheux J. Ross G., "France in the Middle"; Mayhew K., Wickham-Jones M., "The U.K.'s Social Model"; Perez S., Rhodes M., "The Evolution and Crisis of the Social Models in Italy and Spain"; Dolvik E., Goul Andersen J., Vartiainen J., "The Nordic Social Models in Turbolent Times: Consilidation and Flexible Adaptation".

Teaching methods

The course is divided into modules and complementary activities. Lectures will be alternated with group discussions and case studies aimed at deepening the topics covered in class. Presentations will be conducted by students on the topics covered in class.

Assessment methods

Mid-term essay (1,500 words): two distinct questions on, respectively, industrial relations and labour market policy.

24-hour take-home final exam (1,000 words): One scenario-based question requiring knowledge in the areas of industrial relations and labour market policy

Teaching tools

Videos and papers not included in the texts, but particularly significant for the topics covered in class. Slides and other teaching materials will be available to the students in electronic format on Virtuale. Username and password are reserved for students enrolled at the University of Bologna.

Office hours

See the website of Roberto Rizza

See the website of Chiara Benassi


Gender equality Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.