2020/21 LEM Working Paper Series

Trade unions' responses to Industry 4.0 amid corporatism and resistance

Valeria Cirillo, Matteo Rinaldini, Jacopo Staccioli and Maria Enrica Virgillito
Industry 4.0; Trade Unions; Organisational Change; Corporatism

  JEL Classifications
L23, L6, M54, O33
The aim of this paper is to shed light on the paths, directions, and ensuing degrees of technological adoption fostered by trade unions or, alternatively, forms of resistance thereof, in the so called 'Italian Motor-Valley', a distinctive technological district located in the outskirts of Bologna, Italy, specialised in the engineering/automotive industry. We find that the introduction of Industry 4.0 technology opens up a new space of action for trade unions in influencing firms' decisions on technological adoption. However, this new scope can have ambiguous effects, depending on how the process is governed. On the one hand, trade unions' involvement in said decisions might end up fostering corporatist tendencies, favouring the alignment of workers' and managers' objectives. On the other hand, such a major involvement can help both recompose old forms of dualism and revitalising workers' role in the crucial issue of work organisation.
download pdf