Changing Work - The Impact of Reorganisation and Reallocation on Establishment Performance and Worker Well-Being

Funded by: Norwegian Research Council


March 2007 to December 2009

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

Background and Aims

This project will produce new knowledge on how downsizing, mergers and splits, and internal reorganisations affect establishment performance and worker well-being. We address questions such as: What can society, firms and workers gain from reorganisation and reallocation? What kinds of reorganisations are successful? Who, if any, are the losers? And how can institutions and unions change the distribution of winners and losers? In particular, we will investigate how labour market policies and workplace structures regarding negotiations and cooperation between management and workers organisations affect the outcomes for workers and firms. We interpret establishment performance and worker well-being in a broad fashion, measuring outcomes both in terms of establishment productivity and survival, and worker sickness absence, subjective measures of well being as well as employment and income. We focus on strategies that ensure inclusion and reduce marginalisation and exclusion of workers. Comparative analyses between Norway and Great Britain allow us to contrast different models of labour market policy.

Project Design

The project is interdisciplinary and comparative. The partners are economists and sociologists from the Institute for Social Research, Oslo, the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research, Oslo, Institute of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, and from the Policy Studies Institute in London. The project draws on a wide range of data and methodological strate­gies. We will for example use three different data sources: qualitative interviews from Norway, the Nor­wegian surveys Flexi97 and Work-and Workplace-Survey 2003 (ABU2003) matched to comprehensive register data (incl. linked employer-employee data), and the British survey Workplace Em­ploy­­­ment Relations Surveys 1998 and 2004 ( WERS) on workplaces and workers. Our data allow us to investigate the impact of reorganisation and reallocation on establishment performance and worker well-being across time and between dif­fe­­rent institutional systems ( Norway and UK).

Importance of Research

The project will have direct policy relevance because it identifies groups of workers who are particularly vulnerable to exclusion and who experience particularly detrimental impacts on health arising from organizational change. It will also identify ways of organizing, cooperation and communication between workers and management that may mitigate possible negative effects of reorganisation and reallocation. Furthermore, from a workplace performance perspective it identifies situations and circumstances where certain strategies for reallocation and reorganization are most likely to succeed.