The Institute of Economic and Social Research in the Hans Böckler Foundation (WSI) is a policy research institute which undertakes academic analysis of issues of practical relevance to industrial relations. Its work covers a wide range of issues, from economic, labour market and structural policy to social policy, collective bargaining policy and co-determination.
The main focus of the research carried out by WSI is on the economic and social implications of developments in society and policy decisions. On the basis of the results of its academic research, the Institute elaborates economic and social policy proposals aimed at overcoming social problems. The research findings and ideas developed by WSI are made available to academics, policymakers and the public at large.
As part of the process of rebuilding democratic trade unions after the Second World War, one project was to establish a "trade union centre for economic planning and research". This "Wirtschafts-Wissenschaftliches Institut" (Institute of Economic Sciences - WWI ) was set up in 1946 and thus predates the founding of the German Trade Union Federation (DGB). In 1972 its name was changed to "Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut" (Institute of Economic and Social Research - WSI). The WSI was integrated into the Hans Böckler Foundation in 1995.
The WSI forms the research department of the Hans Böckler Foundation - the organ of the DGB responsible for fostering co-determination and promoting research and academic study. It works together with the Foundation"s other departments to the mutual advantage of all concerned.
Cooperation with the advisory department responsible for promoting co-determination enables a fruitful exchange to take place between theoretical and practical aspects of workforce representation. There is also an intensive dialogue on new developments in employment-related academic fields with the department responsible for research promotion. This ensures that there is beneficial internal competition between the two departments with regard to the quality of their research work. A "Scientific Committee" advises the bodies of the Foundation on all matters relating to research and scientific policy. It has a special role in supervising the activities of the WSI and the department for promotion of research.
Key areas of research
The work of the WSI is organised into a number of key areas:
Economic transformation and employment in the process of globalisation
This key area examines economic transformation against the background of globalisation. Both quantitative and qualitative changes in employment are a principal focus of interest here.
Sub-themes in this area include:
Social polarisation, collective security and individualisation
This key area of research focuses on the implications for systems of social security and taxation of changes in the world of work and in private lifestyles. Of particular interest are proposals suggesting how labour market, social and collective bargaining policy might be changed in order to take into account different lifestyles and various stages in an individual's career.
Key themes and issues here are:
Industrial relations and collective bargaining policy
This key area of research examines the impact of the changes that industrial relations in Germany have been exposed to for more than a decade.
Central issues in this area are:
The WSI participates as one of two German partners in the "Eurofound observatories", an information network of highly reputed institutions from all EU countries, coordinated by the Dublin-based European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). The observatories cover key developments in industrial relations in Europe, economic and social developments that drive change in the European economy and quality of work and employment issues in the EU member states and at EU level.
The service is accessible free of charge via the Eurofound website.
As the principal information centre on trade union policy on collective bargaining, the main task of the WSI Collective Agreement Archive is to track and analyse developments concerning collective agreements. Besides publishing regular status reports on current agreements, the Archive also produces special assessments. The Archive has an internet website providing access to information on specific collective agreements and giving overviews of developments pertaining to collective agreements in all the major sectors. Every year the Archive publishes an analysis of current policy developments relating to collective agreements - the "WSI-Tarifhandbuch".
Research results and expert reports produced by the WSI are published mainly in the academic series "Hans-Böckler-Forschung" produced by "edition sigma rainer bohn verlag" in Berlin (http://www.edition-sigma.de/), but WSI publications also appear in the catalogues of various other publishing houses.
Publications since 1997 can be found in our online-databse of publications
"WSI-Mitteilungen" is a monthly journal providing up-to-date information on the results of research on current issues of relevance to trade unions. It is aimed primarily at the academic and business communities, trade unionists and policymakers.