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Running EU projects

Digital transformation in the construction sector: challenges and opportunities - DISCUS


This project aims to analyse and to strengthen the role and contribution of industrial relations structures, including social dialogue, in responding to the major challenges and opportunities brought by digitalisation and technological changes in the construction sector to guarantee better environmental and social conditions for the workers and citizens of the European Union. In order to achieve this goal the project aims to study these phenomena in greater detail and enhance cooperation and mutual learning between research institutes and social players in support of technological innovation in the construction sector. In particular, we consider the process of digitalisation and technological innovation of the sector as two major drivers for the development of the construction sector with a great impact on working processes, quality of work, bargaining and social dialogue.

The topic of digitalisation and technological innovation has been analysed in the manufacture sector in several studies but there is a lack of in-depth analysis and data collection for the construction sector, especially as regards the role of industrial relations. As recognised by the European Commission (2014), the lack of common objectives, indicators and data about innovation in the construction sector and the lack of mutual recognition of different approaches among the social partners about “green” and “proper” transition could soon undo the progress made so far and lead to distortions in the internal market for professionals in the field of planning, designing, constructing and manufacturing.

The project will focus on analysis and research, at EU level as well as in comparative terms, of the rules and practices regarding industrial relations in six European Member States in order to compare experiences and trends from North, South, Central and Eastern Europe: Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria and considering convergences and divergences in innovation processes and the role of industrial relations. The countries selected all agree that digitalisation is a key development challenge for industrial relations in the construction sector but each have their own country-specific models of industrial relations with a multiplicity of variables, such as the role of the State, social partners’ attitudes and cultures, collective bargaining mechanisms, employees participation at enterprise level, trade union density, type of workers’ representation and at the level of prerogatives at the workplace. DISCUS intends to verify concretely the points of convergence and divergence in innovation processes and the role of industrial relations.