Current arrangements for work are subject to major transformations. Many European countries have witnessed dramatic changes in labor conditions during the past years. These have to do with flexible forms of employment, outsourcing, long distance collaboration, equal opportunity legislation, and shifts in pension age. Business firms and their various stakeholders attempt to adapt to these changing circumstances through corporate restructuring, delayering, and reorganizations. In public organizations, market principles were introduced into state bureaucracies, fundamentally transforming their structures and functioning. At the same time, increased employee diversity, flexibility, and professionalization also imply that successful cooperation has become more dependent on individual feelings of identification with one’s colleagues and a commitment to shared goals.
To understand how these changes affect the ability and willingness of people to cooperate in work contexts, three challenges must be addressed. The first, Reshaping Organizational Forms studies to what degree are (emerging) alternative formal organizational structures able to cope with external shocks. Second, Reconfiguring Roles and Relationships focuses on the insecurity about long term prospects in employment and the risk of reducing identification with and commitment to the place of work: how can family roles and community relationships be reconfigured such that cooperative behaviors in both domains create positive spillovers between them? The third, Reconciling Stakeholder Interests addresses the way work organizations relate to local communities and customers as relevant stakeholders. Knowledge is needed on how self-undermining processes can be prevented and reversed by reconciling (diverging or complementary) interests of different external and internal stakeholders. These sustainability threats illustrate the urgency of our key question: under what conditions can cooperation in work become sustainable and contribute to a resilient society?