Project Outline

This research examines the settings for effective European Sectoral Social Dialogue (ESSD).  By ‘settings’ we mean the characteristic of national sectoral industrial relations systems and the characteristic of actors actually engaging in social dialogue at the European level and contributing to outcomes. These outcomes can vary widely in their regulatory character. The overall aim of the project is to establish the structural capacity of national sectoral industrial relations systems and social partners engaging in ESSD and to identify engagement procedures and processes used by social partners.


The project aims to answer questions such as:

  • What are the settings for effective ESSD?
  • What are the barriers to effective engagement in ESDD?
  • How do social partners themselves perceive ‘effective engagement’ and what factors hamper/facilitate effective dialogue according to them?


The project combines quantitative and qualitative methods to research these objectives. The quantitative part of this project is to map national sectoral industrial relations arrangements and social partners’ structural capacity (characteristic) of 43 sectors and the EU-28. Structural capacity is used to map the ‘potential’ of social partners in various sectors and countries to engage in ESSD and to implement outcomes at the national level. The quantitative data are then complemented by in-depth case studies of two sectors (hospitals and metal) within five countries (Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden, and the UK). The selection of sectors intends to promote a greater understanding of the role of different industrial relations regimes and traditions for social partners’ interest in ESSD. National challenges and interest underlie trade unions and employer organisations positions and are important motivating factors in whether to engage or not in social dialogue. The qualitative part investigates social partners’ understanding and interest in ESSD and the engagement procedures and processes employed by social partners at both the European and the national sectoral level.


Project Team (left to right): Bengt Larsson, Sabrina Weber, Thomas Prosser, Barbara Bechter, Manuela Galetto