The digitalisation of service work: A comparative study of restructuring of the banking sector in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg

Kornelakis A, Kirov V, Thill P. (2021) European Journal of Industrial Relations

The article compares the process of digitalisation and outcomes from work restructuring in two banks from the United Kingdom and Luxembourg. The banking sectors in both countries have been challenged by digitalisation pressures such as online and mobile banking, pressures from ‘Fintech’ banks, and the automation of back-office operations. Yet, the adjustment paths in the two countries differed. In Luxembourg, there is an adjustment via limited lay-offs, and increased training and reskilling; however, in the United Kingdom, the main outcomes revolve around branch downsizing and offshoring of employment. These outcomes are explained by differences in institutional supports for collective voice institutions, as well as the role of the state. The findings demonstrate that the embedded employment relations’ institutions and actors have shaped distinct paths of adjustment to digitalisation; and show how the impact of technology on work is neither deterministic nor unidirectional.

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