from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In organizational theory, the term flexibilization describes the process of achieving increased agility of organizations and people. This is achieved by reducing fixed rules and firmly established structures . Linguistically it is a metaphor . The term “flexibility” is a sociological term that is also used as an “economic and political battle term”.

Flexibility in organizational theory

In the labor market "flexibility" the transition from the comprehensive contractually regulated working conditions referred to the Fordism : from ( normal employment , fixed working hours, collective agreements set wages, health insurance and vacation pay and job protection ) to a working marketing largely without these fixed targets.

The process of becoming more flexible is often accompanied by the flattening of hierarchies and the propagation of teamwork . The aim is to improve the ability to react to the order situation (' breathing factory ') and to increase productivity . The employees should - in relation to the capital side - be more involved in the entrepreneurial risks by compensating for a decrease in the rate of return due to the economy or orders by a decrease in labor costs.

Internal and external flexibility

In the economy, a distinction is made between internal flexibility and external flexibility . Here one understands the measures within or outside a company to reduce costs and increase performance. Example: production island . Internal flexibilization corresponds to the flexible use of work within companies: Here, fluctuating demand for labor is regulated by continuous employment but flexible working hours (e.g. working time accounts). External flexibilization corresponds to the flexible deployment of work between companies: here, instead of continuous length of service, the fluctuating demand for work is regulated by recruitment and layoffs. This also includes outsourcing and fixed-term contracts for contract workers .

Temporal and spatial flexibility

With regard to work organization, a distinction is made between flexibility in terms of time and space . Flexibility in terms of time is achieved through the introduction of flexible working time models and aims to eliminate the conventional concept of overtime. Surcharges for work outside of the 'normal working hours' such as weekend, public holiday and night work do not apply to flexible working hours. The flexibilisation of working hours also allows the employee more freedom of action when dividing the time , because he can determine the start and end of the daily working time within a core time that is usually fixed, while observing the weekly working hours. Spatial flexibility is achieved through measures such as teleworking .

Under the heading of an economization of time , models and possible consequences of an efficiency- oriented use of time and flexibility in all areas of life have been examined. Such a development could mean that non-employment-related time requirements would be subordinated to market fluctuations, and would lead to incalculable regeneration times and increased synchronization and coordination efforts in private life. If, on top of that, corporate interests were defined as the interests of their own people, then time requirements would increasingly be internalized as a result. The negotiation of time resources for different areas of life no longer takes place collectively, but is internalized. There is a balance between employment-related and life-related personal time needs . Even the subjective sense of time would be subject to a one-sided economization and could lead to unlimited working hours and alienation. 

Information and communication technology developments enable a high degree of flexibility, but in the sense of constant accessibility they harbor risks of a complete focus on efficiency and a mixture of private and work-related areas, which is also described as the delimitation of work .

Functional flexibility and qualifications

A functional flexibility makes it possible to respond to qualitative changes in the staffing requirements. She goes u. a. associated with a tendency towards lower specialization and broader qualifications of employees.

Flexibility in sociology

Flexibility at the social level can be characterized as a process in which social actors or institutions adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions. For individuals, there is an increase in specific, institutionally unpredictable CVs.

The area of social policy plays a central role in the question of flexibility. On the one hand, because working time is lifetime and shapes an essential part of individual life. On the other hand, because greater flexibility in the labor market has a far-reaching effect on life planning (e.g. family planning ). It is assumed that there has been a general increase in flexibility over the past few decades. This flexibilization has taken place in terms of labor law and social law . New employment relationships were approved under labor law (e.g. marginal employment ) and secured under social law. The general finding is that social security did not run parallel to the expansion of labor law - it remained inadequate in terms of the amount and security of individual new forms of work.

The reasons for making work and social security more flexible are of various kinds: Often mentioned are mass unemployment , expansion of the service sector and thus the loss of the trade unions' power to represent interests, globalization, but also the demand for more flexible forms of work such as B. after part-time work.

In contrast to the economic perspectives of flexibilization, prerequisites for flexibilization are discussed in sociology. In relation to the labor market, the thesis is put forward that flexibility of people requires a secure basis for action. Social security for society enables actors to react flexibly and efficiently to changing economic conditions, and it enables companies to react flexibly to changed economic framework conditions (e.g. redundancies are associated with far lower follow-up costs if people do not care about them Seeing existence deprived).

However, even a particularly comprehensive social security does not favor successful professional or work-related flexibility. With increasingly diverse options for action in highly dynamic work environments, employees are expected to make complex decisions which, precisely because of the increased degree of freedom in personal decision-making behavior, increase the risk of undesirable consequences and can concentrate responsibility accordingly individually. If work-related flexibility is often required in the course of operational or economic change processes, it must be seen that change developments can take an unexpected, uncontrollable course. Even a high degree of professional flexibility does not represent a general success factor in terms of adapting to changed work environments or work requirements.

The compromise formula of flexicurity , which was first developed in the Netherlands , is seen as an alternative to pure flexibilisation.It combines four central concepts: the concept of transitional labor markets, a collective bargaining and company policy that secures employment, lifelong learning and a reform of old-age security towards or towards basic social security to a system of flexible entitlements.

See also


  • Sandra Buchholz: The flexibilization of the employment process , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008, ISBN 978-3-531-16099-3
  • Martin Kronauer / Gudrun Linne (eds.): Flexicurity , Sigma, Berlin 2005
  • Marcel Schütz: Flexibility in professional life . In: Frankfurter Rundschau of July 4, 2015, p. 17
  • Richard Sennett : The flexible person , Goldmann, 2000, ISBN 3-442-75576-X
  • Olaf Struck: Flexibility and Security , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006
  • Marc Szydlik (Ed.): Flexibility. Consequences for work and family , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007
  • Georg Vobruba : The flexible working society , in: Ders .: Decoupling of work and income , VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Georg Vobruba: Basics of the sociology of work flexibility , Berliner Journal für Soziologie, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Volume 16, No. 1, January 2006, p. 1
  2. The economization of time in flexible capitalism (PDF; 173 kB), Kerstin Jürgens, WSI Mitteilungen 4/2007, pages 167-173 (accessed on October 21, 2007)
  3. (English :) 24/7 Workplace Connectivity: A Hidden Ethical Dilemma (PDF; 190 kB), Charles F. Piazza, Santa Clara University, January 23, 2007 (accessed November 10, 2007)
  4. "Practical necessity to become more flexible"? Company reorganization and flexible forms of employment. (PDF; 195 kB) In: Forba series 2/1999. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018 ; Retrieved January 25, 2010 . P. 11 ( Memento of the original from March 7, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / forba.at
  5. Vobruba 2006
  6. Kronauer / Linne 2005
  7. ^ Flexicurity: Struck 2006
  8. Marcel Schütz: "Flexible in professional life" , Frankfurter Rundschau from July 4, 2015
  9. Berndt Keller and Hartmut Seifert: Flexicurity - How can flexibility and social security be reconciled? (PDF; 118 kB) In: Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, 35th year No. 1. 2002, accessed on January 25, 2010 .