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2020/2021  BA-BHAAV6045U  Business, labour market inequality and digital transformation

English Title
Business, labour market inequality and digital transformation

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Second Quarter, Third Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 70
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Caroline de la Porte - Department of International Economics, Goverment and Business (EGB)
  • Janine Leschke - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Main academic disciplines
  • Organisation
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 13-02-2020

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of concepts, theories and methods used to study labour market inequality and digitalization.
  • Explain contemporary labour market theories and concepts.
  • Operationalise key labour market concepts with relevant data and indicators.
  • Develop a relevant research question and design drawing upon the topics covered in the course.
  • Show analytical proficiency in handling research questions and in supporting theory-driven arguments in the scope of the course with relevant empirical evidence.
Business, labour market inequality and digital transformation:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Essay
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter and Spring
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Students will write a 10-pages essay (academic paper). Students formulate their own research question drawing on the lectures, assigned readings, class discussions and exercises.
Description of the exam procedure

Students will write a 10-pages essay (academic paper). Students formulate their own research question drawing on the lectures, assigned readings, class discussions and exercises. .   

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach


Inequality is a central issue in contemporary debates in business and social sciences as exemplified by Piketty’s research on inequality in his path-breaking book – “ Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. International organisations, such as the OECD and the World Bank, are increasingly concerned with rising inequality across and within countries.


This course focuses on the role of governments, business and trade unions in creating and mitigating labour market inequalities across countries and sectors of the economy. We examine various inequalities (gender, youth, migrant, low skilled) arising from recent decades of labour market reforms and organizational changes within firms.


Digitalisation and big data are new trends in labour market inequalities. We scrutinize the phenomenon among others by way of studying platform work and its implication on wages and working conditions.


The courses also focuses on work-place inequalities, especially from a gendered perspective and with a focus on migrants. We discuss what businesses and policy makers can do to tackle gendered and ethnic inequalities.


The course will enable the students to conduct independent research with a specific focus on labour market inequalities and digitalisation. Students will get hands-on experience of retrieving relevant data and indicators and relating these to concepts and theories. The skills acquired in this course are useful in preparation for writing a bachelor thesis and transferable to other settings, including work in businesses as well as, governmental and international organizations.


Students will have the possibility to present their tentative research question in the last session. The presentation (approximately 5 minutes) should include a justification of the choice of countries, relevant definitions, concepts and data (variables, indicators and institutions). Students will receive feedback in class on their research question and approach from the teachers and their peers.   



Indicative overview of sessions

1. Course introduction and lecture - Digitalization and labour market inequalities

2. Group exercise – Comparing “more and better jobs” across Europe

3. Lecture – The role of governments in moderating low wages

4. Lecture – The role of collective bargaining in labor market inequalities

5. Group exercise – Collective bargaining and social partner strategies in the cleaning sector

6. Lecture – New inequalities through digitalisation of labour and platform work

7. Group exercise – Digitalisation, platform work and working-time

8. Lecture – Unemployed and big data in public employment services

9. Lecture – Institutional constraints and opportunities for gender equality

10. Group exercise – Eurostat’s living and working conditions & OECD’s family data base

11. Lecture – The Role of the Firm in Gender Equality

12. Lecture – Flexible workers for flexible jobs? – Businesses and EU migrants

13. Lecture – Research design

14. Student presentations of research question and approach in view of the exam & wrap-up and evaluation


Description of the teaching methods
The course combines lectures, group exercises and class discussions based on the assigned readings. Selected sessions make use of group presentations of exercises using comparative aggregate data and indicators along different dimensions of digitalization and labour market inequality. The students will learn how to formulate a concise research question and create a good research design. This will be useful in view of the final exam but also other term papers including the bachelor thesis. The exercises focus on the links between research question, theory, indicators and data (qualitative and quantitative). They will also include reflections on comparative analysis including across countries, groups of workers or sectors of the economy. The students will learn to identify, navigate and use relevant databases in the labour market field (e.g. OECD, Eurostat, Eurofound, Leave network) in view of substantiating their research questions. Finally, each student will individually present and get feedback on their own tentative research question, theory and data, in a final seminar, in preparation for the take-home exam.
Feedback during the teaching period
• Oral feedback from teachers and peers on the group exercises in selected classes.
• Oral feedback from teachers as part of class discussions on assigned readings in all classes.
• Oral feedback from teachers and peers on presentation of research question and design in the final session.

Student workload
lectures 36 hours
exam 74 hours
Course preparation 94 hours
Expected literature

Readings include state-of-the art academic articles, selected book chapters as well as analysis by leading international organisations such as the OECD. Below is a sample of readings used for this course:


Esping-Andersen, G. (2009) Incomplete Revolution: Adapting Welfare States to Women's New Roles, chapters 1 & 2, Polity Press, 19-74.

Friberg, J. H., Arnholtz, J., Eldring, L., Hansen, N. W. and Thorarins, F. (2014). Nordic labour market institutions and new migrant workers: Polish migrants in Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavik, European Journal of Industrial Relations, 20(1): 37-53: https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1177/​0959680113516847


Grimshaw, D., Ward, K., Rubery, J. and Beynon, H. (2001) Organisations and the Tranformation of the Internal Labour Market, Work, Employment and Society 15(1), pp. 25-54.


Healy, J. et al. (2017), Should we take the gig economy seriously? Labour and Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work, 27(3): 232-248.

Grimshaw, D. (2011) “What do we know about low-wage work and low-wage workers? Analysing the definitions, patterns, causes and consequences in international perspective”, Conditions of Work and Employment Series No. 28, Geneva: ILO: http:/​/​www.ilo.org/​travail/​whatwedo/​publications/​WCMS_157253/​lang--en/​index.htm


Kalleberg, A. (2001) Organizing Flexibility: The Flexible Firm in a New Century, British Journal of Industrial Relations 39:4, pp. 479-504.


Kowalewska, H. (2019), Bringing Women on Board: The Social Policy Implications of Gender Diversity in Top Jobs, Journal of Social Policy, DOI: https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1017/​S0047279419000722


McCollum D, Findlay A (2015) ‘Flexible’ workers for ‘flexible’ jobs? The labour market function of A8 migrant labour in the UK. Work, Employment and Society 29(3): 427–443.


OECD (2017) Collective bargaining in a changing world of work, OECD Employment Outlook 2017, Paris: OECD, ch. 4, p. 125-187

OECD (2017) The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An uphill battle, OECD Employment Outlook, Paris: OECD, Consult chapters 4 & 11.

O’Reilly, J., Leschke, J., Ortlieb, R., Seeleib-Kaiser, M. & Villa, P. (2019) Comparing the problems of youth labor market transitions in Europe: Joblessness, insecurity, institutions, and inequality, ch 1 in: O’Reilly et al. (eds.) Youth Labor in Transition: Inequalities, Mobility and Policies in Europe, Oxford University Press


Trygstad, S., Larsen, T. P., Nergaard, K. (2018) Dealing with austerity and migration in the northern European cleaning sector: Social partner strategies to strengthen wage floors, European Journal of Industrial Relations, online first: https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1177/​0959680118790818


Last updated on 13-02-2020