The Origins of Codetermination: Tracing the British Influence, a Crag Talk by Rebecca Zahn

The Origins of Codetermination: Tracing the British Influence, a Crag Talk by Rebecca Zahn
Thursday 24 March 2016
University of Edinburgh
LLC – Project Room 5.30 pm


Codetermination – worker participation in management – forms part of the industrial relations traditions of a number of European countries. Among these, the German system of parity codetermination (paritätische Mitbestimmung) which was first introduced in the iron and steel industries by the British military command after the Second World War provides the greatest level of involvement for workers. Reconstituted German trade unions had begun to call for the institutionalization of Mitbestimmung – which they associated with the equal status of workers and employers in the management of enterprises – as early as March 1946 at their first post-war congress. The literature suggests that these calls were influenced by plans for a reorganization of the German economy drawn up by exiled German trade-unionists based in the UK during the Second World War. This paper traces the origins of these plans which were developed in Britain during the Second World War in order to determine to what extent British socialist thinking influenced the German institution of co-determination.

Rebecca Zahn joined the University of Strathclyde in 2015. Prior to this, she was a lecturer at the University of Stirling from 2011 until 2015 and a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute from 2010 until 2011. Her main research interests and specialisation lie in the fields of European Law and Labour Law (particularly European, national, and comparative labour law) and she has published widely in these areas.

She is one of the country experts (Germany) on the project ‘Access to citizenship in Europe’ run by a consortium of European universities and has written reports for the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Public Services’ Union. She is also the Secretary of the University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) and the Labour Law Section Convenor for the Society of Legal Scholars.

She received a Ph.D in Law from the University of Edinburgh in 2011. Prior to this she completed an LL.B. (Hons) in Law and French at the University of Edinburgh and an LL.M (Human Rights) at the School of Oriental and African Studies. In 2011, her PhD thesis was awarded the European Trade Union Confederation’s Brian Bercusson Award for the best PhD thesis to have been submitted in European Labour Law between 2006 and 2010.

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