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Work-related values and outcomes


Work plays an important role in people’s lives. It often covers a substantial part of a life time and has a clear impact on one’s position in society and one’s wellbeing. The third component in the research of AIAS-HSI relates to the role work plays in people’s lives and how various aspects are valued (i.e. work-related values), as well as the extrinsic and intrinsic quality of work and inequalities therein (i.e. work-related outcomes). The research includes an examination of the interplay or dynamics between values and outcomes: do people manage to realise their work-related values, how do individuals evaluate outcomes and do (objective or subjective) outcomes affect values? Work-related values and outcomes do not only concern the labour force. Next to workers, entrepreneurs, employers, collective actors and society at large may hold different values and thrive on different outcomes. The values of various actors may contrast or correspond with each other and regulation may enhance or defer the realisation of values for different groups.

The changes that occur in today’s labour markets are accompanied by changing employment patterns in many advanced economies, disrupting established forms of labour market regulation and social protection in Europe. The rise of non-standard work is associated with a decrease in work and income security, employability, workers’ representation and equality of opportunities. Put differently: the flexibilisation of the labour market is likely to change both the elements people consider important (values) and the quality of work and inequalities therein (outcomes). But changing perspectives on gender roles, the impact on work from new technologies, globalisation, et cetera are also likely to change the role of work in people’s lives, the evaluation of various work aspects (values) and the quality and inequality of work (outcomes). Moreover, new values may emerge, such as an increased preference for autonomy, work-life-balance, flexibility and the right to be unreachable, and the workplace may increasingly become a central social institution. If more people do not realise their work-related values or differ in their opportunities for realising these values, this may lead to larger inequalities on the labour market and in society at large and may call for (new or changed) regulation.

Part of the research is intended to help us gain more evidence-based insight into work-related values and outcomes for workers, employers and society. Legal research examines which values for workers and employers are anchored in national law and international (treaty) law and how these two sources of fundamental values relate to each other. Social research investigates which values are considered important by various stakeholders and how the quality of work changes over time. In addition, the research focuses on how work-related values and outcomes are related to individual and work characteristics, the organisational context in which work is conducted and the impact both formal and informal institutions have. Research findings in this area may lay a more factual foundation for the normative dimension of (legal) research.