Preliminary investigations on indirect competition among Italian employers’ associations

27 / 04 / 2022
This Working Paper is the first one of the Scuola Europea di Relazioni Industriali (SERI) Series

Employers’ associations (EAs) are important actors for the industrial relations and collective bargaining (CB) system. Employers and unions typically negotiate over work standards in wages and working conditions on behalf of their member companies and employees, respectively. 

While most of the industrial relations literature has mainly focused on EAs’ membership strength and associational density, in this paper, edited by Michele Faioli and Silvio Bologna, the authors depart from this perspective, and concentrate on the functioning and governance of EAs, i.e. their role in representation and coordination activities, CB, information sharing to promote better coordination, and provision of training.

EAs have then to pursue two distinct but complementary goals: the first one is to extend their membership base as much as possible in order to obtain resources to run the association and to provide a number of services; the second one is broader in scope, having to do with the need of EAs to influence policy making, lobby for contributions or subsidies, and gain recognition vis-à-vis other organisations.

In this respect, the functioning of Italian EAs represents an interesting case study. Remarkably, in Italy, the number of EAs has increased dramatically in recent years, reaching a total of 900, the vast majority of which have only few affiliated firms. In this scenario of fragmentation of social partners and industrial relations practices, the authors investigate how the goals and governance of EAs have evolved. 

The methodological approach applied is multidisciplinary in nature, based on the interaction between the structure of EAs (which is de ned as “static analysis”), and the performance of EAs (conventionally de ned “dynamic analysis”).