The Institutional Context for Temporary Staffing: A European Cross-national Comparative Approach

  • Jennifer Watts

Student thesis: Phd


Since the early 1990s the temporary staffing industry experienced rapid growth in many areas of Europe, although the extent and rate of this growth varied across the continent. The existing literature on labour market intermediaries and the temporary staffing industry fail to adequately address the importance of national institutional arrangements. This thesis addresses the research lacuna by providing a comparative study of temporary staffing industries in three different political-economic contexts: the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic. This contributes to a greater understanding of the role of the temporary staffing industry in each country, how it is structured, and the key institutions involved.These three case studies profile the size and characteristics of each temporary staffing industry but also discuss the key institutions present in each case, and the relationships which drive or restrict its change. This thesis includes analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data to provide a detailed picture of each national temporary staffing industry. The research reveals three nationally distinctive formations of the temporary staffing industry within the context of the European Union.While the UK has the largest temporary staffing industry in Europe, it remains highly fragmented. With an established presence in many sectors of the labour market the industry seeks to increase its presence in professional occupations, and its collaboration with public employment services. While the temporary staffing industry in Germany has experienced significant growth since 2003, resistance remains from the trade unions against the use of temporary agency work, and the state remains greatly involved in determining working conditions. The presence of collective bargaining between the trade unions and trade associations remains a key relationship in this system. The temporary staffing industry in the Czech Republic is still in the early stages of growth and as such regulations are still being formulated, and agencies are still establishing branch networks in an environment where a large number of informal agencies are already present.While temporary staffing agencies and trade associations remain active in pursuing growth for the temporary staffing industry, the extent to which these changes took place varied between countries. This thesis argues the form of each national temporary staffing industry is a reflection of the complex historical, and contemporary, national institutional arrangements, and as such, its form and role varies.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Ward (Supervisor) & Neil Coe (Supervisor)


  • Variegated Capitalism
  • Employment
  • Intermediaries
  • Labour
  • Temporary staffing
  • Europe

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