updated: 1 september 2005

The ambitious research objectives of WORKS will be achieved through a comprehensive and coherent programme of research involving several disciplines (sociology, economics, organisation analysis, labour studies, psychology, gender studies, political science) and carried out by 17 expert research partners from 13 European countries. WORKS will result in important improvements in relation to the state-of-the-art in combining the analysis of restructuring and changes of work organisation with investigations in individual biographies and household dynamics and their institutional contexts of welfare systems. The research programme encompasses four key pillars and three horizontal dimensions.

Key pillar 1: Theories and concepts
Taking account of the richness of research traditions in each of the countries involved and at the European level, the project will contribute to the integration and innovation of theories and concepts that we need to understand the major changes in work. The integration and innovation of the theoretical and conceptual approaches will take account of this existing knowledge, will be based on robust empirical research, carried out in the research programme of the project and will be assessed in active dialogues with the broader scientific community.

Key pillar 2: Quantitative analysis
A feasibility and benchmarking study of the national and European statistical systems regarding the quantitative analysis of changes in work in organisation and in individual and household surveys will lead to the identification of best practice indicators for European comparative research. This will underpin focused comparative secundary analysis and will enhance initiatives for more convergence of existing organisation surveys.

Key pillar 3: Qualitative research
A major research activity of WORKS is to carry out case studies in organisations to provide windows into the restructuring of value chains at strategic points to illuminate changes in the organisation of work within and between organisations and to investigate the related changes for knowledge and skills and for flexibility issues at the level of the workplace. Related to this, qualitative research at the individual level will be carried out in order to analyse the implications for the quality of work, time use, learning and occupational identities.

Key pillar 4: Policy, institutions and social dialogue
The national varieties of the institutional, policy and social dialogue contexts which have an impact on work organisations and individuals will be mapped and compared in a first phase. Related to the qualitative research in organisations, the role of institutional regulations and of the social dialogue for shaping work and its implications for the quality of life will be investigated.

Horizontal dimension 1: Contributing to a European Research Area on changes in work
Essential for this research project is its contributing to the development of an integrated European Research Area for the study of changes in work. Besides the integrating and innovating character of the core research activities, this aim is addressed by involving researchers from outside the project, by the project's contribution to more convergence of organisational survey practices, by the development of methodologies for carrying out qualitative research into work organisation and with individuals, which are sufficiently rigorous to allow for comparability whilst retaining sensitivity to cultural and institutional differences, and by the project's initiatives to link the research to training of researchers.

Horizontal dimension 2: Involvement of stakeholders
Fundamental to the achievement of the major research objective is the need to root the programme of research in a framework informed and supported by users and stakeholders. A key strategy of the project is its active collaboration with a Global Reference Group to compare European developments with those elsewhere in the world and to identify the niches of European regions in the new global division of labour. Further, the social partners and other policy stakeholders will be involved actively in the projects' research and training initiatives and a comprehensive programme of dissemination will be established, including two international conferences.

Horizontal dimension 3: Gender mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming is built in throughout the whole project, by assessing and including the gender dimension in the project's research methodologies, by analysing the empirical findings including the perspective of the gender contract; and by devoting particular attention to gender equality in the reporting, training and dissemination initiatives.