The capabilities approach as a style of restructuring : a new way of looking at the company and the contract of employment ?
After focusing on employment protection and the blocking of managerial decisions, the protests produced by company restructuring have led to the emergence of negotiational practices which tend to link employee choice with company prospects. The objective of this paper is to see to what extent this development forms a decision-making process, beyond the confrontation between management and workers’ representatives, that is close to a form of « capabilities approach », that connects individual freedom of choice to participation in collective decision-making, in terms of Amartya Sen’s perspective. It sees work as a « supply of capability » that converts the contractual involvement of the worker into a shared activity within the company. As a form of reality-testing of the company, restructuring appears as moments of explanation and evaluation of the shared activity and individual commitments on which it is based, as much in the context of processes of information-consultation with staff representatives as for the employees themselves. These lead to a linkage within the same debate between individual plans that envisage « voluntary departures », and a view of the company as an entity in the making. In this, they form a process linking individual choices and the future of the company, and are the manifestation of the « political capacity » of employees and their representatives.
Keywords. EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT – COMPANY – RESTRUCTURING – CAPABILITY – AMARTYA SEN