DTA

Digital Theses Archive

 

Tesi etd-11302020-214121

Type of thesis
Dottorato
Author
MARCOLIN, ARIANNA
URN
etd-11302020-214121
Title
Digitalization in the Retail Sector: a Comparative Case Study Between Italy And Spain Industrial Relations
Scientific disciplinary sector
SPS/04
Course
Istituto di Diritto, Politica e Sviluppo - JOINT PHD IN POLITICAL SCIENCE, EUROPEAN POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Committee
relatore Prof. NATALI, DAVID
Membro Prof. MOLINA, OSCAR
Membro Prof. GASPARRI, STEFANO
Membro Dott.ssa DORDONI, ANNALISA
Keywords
  • collective bargaining
  • digitalization
  • industrial relations
  • Italy
  • retail sector
  • Spain
Exam session start date
04/11/2021;
Availability
parziale
Abstract
Digitalization in the retail sector has transformed daily life: consumers purchase goods whenever they want, while workers, mainly young female migrants, are increasingly employed on non-standard contracts. In parallel, there has been considerable debate over the future role of trade unions and their ability to protect such workers through collective bargaining. Some academics suggest that unions, mostly representing older male workers and struggling to appeal to younger cohorts, cannot adapt to a new role. However, the current trend towards digitalization may provide the opportunity for new forms of cooperation, consultation, and concertation between institutions and interest groups. <br>The original objectives of the thesis, to understand the nature and impact of digitalization on the retail sector, were extended during the course of the research to include whether the industrial relations institution of collective bargaining might protect workers from excessive flexibility, low salaries, high levels of monitoring, and skills mismatch. Union and employer strategies, and their impact on collective bargaining outcomes, were investigated in two countries. Italy and Spain were chosen because of their different industrial relations institutions, even though they belong to the same Southern European countries model, which affects the social actors’ scope of action, especially as regards collective bargaining. This research examines whether, in the face of digitalization, collective bargaining outcomes reflect ‘high road’ strategies, or whether existing economic models mean that industrial relations cannot sufficiently adapt to protect workers. <br>This research makes an original contribution by linking industrial relations developments to technological change in the retail sector. One of its distinctive features is the use of data from semi-structured interviews with social actors about their approach to digitalization and how this translates into negotiations with employers and collective bargaining outcomes. The research also uses content analysis to examine collective agreements, signed in the retail sector over the last decade-focusing on big retailers-, to chart the evolution of employer and union strategies. From this, conclusions are drawn about the impact of the pandemic on negotiations, key issues are identified, and the impact on workers is assessed.<br>This qualitative approach shows that the social actors’ strategies remain rooted in their objectives, priorities, and power resources, which are in turn are influenced by complex multi-level political, legal, and institutional contexts, ideological stances, and labour market situations. The research findings reveal that although the narratives in both Italy and Spain support the idea of adopting high road policies, this does not translate into concrete <br>bargaining outcomes. Furthermore, there is a fundamental disagreement about what constitutes the high road; in Spain, the right of workers to disconnect is emphasized, while in Italy the right to be involved in decision-making over tasks predominate. <br>The research also shows that no new interpretative model is needed in this context for understanding industrial relations since the use of a comparative perspective and adoption of an actor-centred neo-institutionalist model effectively explain developments in structure and agency. Consequently, digitalization per se does not lead to a completely new paradigm<br>
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