‘One Best Way’ of Short-Time Work? A comparative perspective on the implementation of working-time accounts in Germany and South Africa during the financial crisis 2008/2009

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


As indicated by the huge public attention in the media and underlined by recent scientific publications (Altvater 2010), between 2008 and 2010 the world financial crisis has undoubtedly been the central impact, shaping the social reality of business models and labour regulation all across the globe. Since the automotive industry does not stand out as an exception in this matter, different ways of ‘steering through the turbulences’ caused by the economic crisis have been established by the various car-manufacturers. In developing a more detailed perspective on the reactions to the economic and social impact of the crisis which were taken in various national contexts, different reaction-patterns can be identified, depending on the particular national setting, in which these impacts need to be dealt with. To analyze the frame of opportunities and restrictions shaping the policies of man-agement and workers´ representatives, a system of country-specific institutions becomes ap-parent as the focal point of a sociological perspective, aiming to understand differing reactions to the crisis.

As the core-object of the presentation, empirical findings about (attempts of) the introduction of short-time work into the production system of a German car-manufacturer, operating in South Africa, will be discussed against the background of the specific institutional setting of the two countries. As has been pointed out by Jürgens and Blöcker (2009), short-time work turned out to be a well-directed instrument to react to the unstable economic situation of the crisis in Germany. At the same time, the introduction of short-time work generally met with a refusal of the South African workers. According to the approach of Pries (2010), the institutional analysis of the presentation is supposed to unfold its explanatory power through consideration of the impact of five institu-tional factors (i.e. family/network; profession/occupation, organization of work, market, public regime). Drawing on the findings of this institutional analysis, as well as on interview-footage collected in the course of field work in Germany and South Africa, light will be shed on the question of the introduction of working-time accounts in Germany an South Africa. From a theoretical and methodological point of view, the second, more perspectively oriented goal of the presentation lies in the utilization of an integrative perspective on institutional set-tings and actors´ dispositions in comparative research.



Altvater, Elmar (2010): Der große Krach. Die Jahrhundertkrise von Wirtschaft und Finanzen, Münster: Westfäli-sches Dampfboot

Jürgens, Ulrich; Blöcker, Antje (2009): Strategies for Overcoming the Crisis in the German Car Industry. Pres-entation held at 17th International GERPISA-Colloquium,17-19 June 2009, Paris, Quelle: http://www.gerpisa.univ-evry.fr/rencontre/17.rencontre/GERPISAJune2009/C...

Pries, Ludger (2010): Erwerbsregulierung in einer globalisierten Welt. Wiesbaden: VS

Martin Seeliger (*1984) works as a research assistant at the Chair of Sociology / Organisation, Migration, Participation at the Ruhr-University of Bochum. Current research interests: Sociology of work and organization in an international perspective, with a special focus on the automotive industry.

  GIS Gerpisa / gerpisa.org
  4 Avenue des Sciences, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette

Copyright© Gerpisa
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Juan Sebastian Carbonell, Lorenza MonacoGéry Deffontaines

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system