The condition of European economic democracy: A comparative analysis of individual and collective employment rights

Andrew Cumbers, Karen Bilsland* (Corresponding Author), Robert McMaster, Susana Cabaço, Michael White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The condition of European economic democracy is generally recognised to be in a fragile state. Recent discussions have centred on pressures to converge towards an Anglo-American model of flexible and deregulated employment relations and systems, consonant with a broader neoliberal economic governance discourse. Existing approaches suggest an uneven experience between countries around a general trend of deterioration. In this article we offer two new contributions to these debates. First, we introduce findings from an Economic Democracy Index (EDI) we have developed. This goes beyond existing indices of employment and industrial democracy to allow us to examine the changing nature of individual employment rights as well as collective bargaining conditions between European countries. Second, we depart from existing studies of European employment relations, which tend to take a comparative national approach, by situating national employment relations and trajectories within a wider set of spatial and social relations. Qualitative analysis of three country cases (Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia) supplements our EDI analysis. Our evidence suggests the importance of multi-scalar relational and institutional dynamics between social actors at the national scale and those at higher scales such as the European Union in understanding variations in country performance on the EDI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-137
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by funding from the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Transformative Research Programme: ‘Transforming Public Policy through Economic Democracy’ (ES/N006674/1).

The authors would like to thank the editor and three referees for their helpful comments in improving the article. We would also like to thank the Economic and Social Research Council for funding the research grant behind this article.

Data Availability Statement

Supplemental material
Supplemental material for this article is available online.


  • Comparative political economy
  • economic democracy
  • employment rights
  • financial crisis
  • labour market restructuring


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