The project focuses on industrial relations in creative industries. Creative workers are a highly heterogeneous group, which is internally highly differentiated. On the one hand, there are workers employed in large enterprises with high wages, good employment conditions and stable contracts. On the other, there are vulnerable workers who contract out their skills to various organizations in project based labour markets, straddling between self-employment and economically dependent conditions, with medium-low wages and a professional environment characterised by a high level of uncertainty. The research project regards the latter, namely highly skilled workers that play a key role in the knowledge economy but that are also more vulnerable.

The action has three main goals: a) providing a general overview on industrial relations in creative industries across Europe; b) investigating practices in different countries with heterogeneous traditions in industrial relations and social dialogue; c) disseminating project’s results among social partners, policy makers and other stakeholders at national and international level.

IR-CREA will especially study how trade unions and employers’ representatives include creative workers in collective bargaining activity and what kind of services they provide. The project also aims to disclose the presence of alternative forms of association of creative workers’ interests (such as informal professional communities and co-working spaces). The digitization of the economy has resulted in the rise of new activities within the creative industries (as the case of gaming industries) and it transformed the others (as the case of graphic designers). The project IR-CREA will explore the dynamics of the two sectors, analysing the major changes, and highlighting the relationships with the representative organizations.

The project is divided into five work packages (WPs). WP A focuses on industrial relations in creative industries across European countries. WPs B, C, D deal with industrial relations in creative sectors in three countries (Denmark; Italy and the Netherlands). WP E is dedicated to the national and international dissemination activity in non-academic domains.


The overarching purpose of IR-CREA is to analyse traditional and innovative forms of industrial relations among creative workers across Europe. In particular, it would address the following questions:
– What are the strategies of social partners at national and territorial level to overcome the challenges related to high uncertainty in the creative workers labour market?
– What is the role of collective bargaining (both national and sub-national levels) and social dialogue in regulating creative industries?
– Do special institutions, such as bilateral bodies between unions and employers associations, provide collective goods and services for these workers?
– What strategies do trade unions and employers’ representatives adopt in order to include creative workers in traditional representation schemes? What do they do at national level and what at local level?
– How can social partners increase the inclusion of creative workers in industrial relation processes?
– To what extent are creative workers experimenting new ways of representing their interests?


IR-CREA will use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. In particular, the project will use:
– Existing statistics concerning creative workers in order to map the sector and it sub-sector at national and European level;
– Available literature, Eurofound databases, current legislation, relevant case law at national level and available texts of collective agreements and social trilateral negotiations;
– Interviews and focus groups with key informants, representatives from the social partners and creative workers at national and European level.

Work Packages A

The WP A refers to upstream project activities (research design, conceptual definitions, data and documents mining, overview on creative sectors at European level) and downstream project activities (comparisons between national, sectoral/territorial results). More in general, WP A will deal with the coordination of activities and dissemination of results.This work package will be carried out by University of Florence, which will first make a preliminary overview on the characteristics of labour markets and industrial relations of creative industries across European countries. DSPS (University of Florence) will also set-up the research tools for the case studies (interview grid, definition of metrics to measure creative workers across countries, etc.). Results of the overall European overview and of the comparison between the three national cases will be delivered in the preliminary report, in the final report and in two policy briefs.

Work Packages B, C, D

The WP B, C, D will concentrate on each of the three European countries involved (Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands). In particular, the FAOS (University of Copenhagen) will study the Danish case (WP B) and the DPSP (University of Florence) will study Italy (WP C). The Dutch case (WP D) will be carried out by the University of Florence under the scientific supervision and the logistic support of AIAS (University of Amsterdam). Each WP would deal with a national case study and a case study at subsectoral/ regional level. By adopting different research techniques (quantitative and qualitative methods, documentary analysis and field research) each group will map industrial relations in creative sectors. Each WP will also provide the description of national creative labour markets and of the national legal framework of employment contracts and of social security coverage. The field-research will be conducted through interviews with key informants, unions and employers’ representatives and focus groups with creative workers. These research results will be delivered in a preliminary report and in a final report.

Work Packages E

The WP E is dedicated to the international dissemination activities in non-academic domains and to the coordination of the dissemination activities at national level. The DSPS (University of Florence) will be in charge for this WP. Moreover, DSPS will assume the task of coordinating national dissemination strategies, especially of those involving social partners, policy makers and other stakeholders.

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