Part-time management in Europe. The current situation and recommendations for the implementation

Bachelor Thesis, 2014

48 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

1. Introduction

2. Definition and explanation of key terms
2.1 Management
2.2 Part-time employment
2.3 Chapter summary

3. Current situation in Europe
3.1 Germany
3.2 The Netherlands
3.3 Switzerland
3.4 Rise of Generation Y
3.5 Demand and satisfaction of managerial part-time work
3.6 Chapter summary

4. Implementation
4.1 Reasons for exploiting part-time employment
4.2 Best practice example: The German insurance company HUK-Coburg
4.3 Models of part-time work
4.3.1 Job sharing
4.3.2 Cadre model
4.3.3 Reduced working days
4.4 Obstacles of part-time work and corresponding solutions
4.5 Success factors and recommendations
4.6 Chapter summary

5. Conclusion

6. Reference list

7. Appendix

List of figures

Figure 1: Development of female executives in Europe (in 1,000)

Figure 2: Part-time managers in Europe (in 1,000)

Figure 3: National part-time culture & part-time employment in 2009

Figure 4: Percentage of female managers working part-time

Figure 5: Population of Generation Y in Europe (in 1,000)

Figure 6: Division of men and women employed in 1996 and 2013 (in percentage)

Figure 7: Work incapacity days & cases due to burnout per 1,000 AOK members

Figure 8: 5 Factors for a successful introduction of part-time in the management

List of tables

Table 1: Executives in the private industry in Germany (in hours)

Table 2: Full-time and part-time employment of executives (in 1,000)

Table 3: Full-time employment of women in executive positions (in 1,000)

1. Introduction

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it” – Elbert Hubbard (as cited in Esar and Bentley, 1951, p. 103).

For decades it has been known now how the future demographic development will be like and what radical impact it will leaves on the employment structure of companies. Nevertheless, no proper responses have been made by companies to motivate, on the one hand, the Generation Y employees and, on the other hand, women to take over more responsibility and occupy a management position (Kaiser, 2010, pp. 85-86). One of the most important job specifications for the Generation Y and women, however, is the so-called work-life balance, so employers must use work-life balance issues as incentives in recruiting (Smith, 2013, pp. 443-444). Work-life balance, as the new magic word in economics, is defined as “the relationship between institutional and cultural times and spaces of work and non-work in societies where income is predominantly generated and distributed through labour markets” (Felstead, et al., 2002, p. 57), and one way to achieve this balance is the concept of part-time work (Brummelhuis & van der Lippe, 2010, pp. 173-176).

As a consequence, this thesis correlates both topics and investigates the applicability of the concept of part-time work on the management level. In so doing, the specific focus on managers was chosen due to the fact that companies have a great interest in forming a lasting bond with this kind of highly qualified specialists and, therefore, are required to take better account of their needs regarding the working time management. Furthermore, reductions in working time at management level can help the labour market to reduce the gender segregation by attracting more women to top positions.

A good management is crucial for the success of companies, and without it they will develop too slowly, stagnate and get lost. Good managers, though, keep their employees focussed, they are able to perform superior relative to their competitors and achieve competitive advantage for their company. Nevertheless, it is neither the superior performance nor the competitive advantage to be concentrated on, but rather the employees as these are not just a part of the company. Nowadays, employees are more important than ever because as Darling (1999: 317) argues the survival of today’s enterprises depends only and exclusively upon people, their knowledge and skills, interactions between them, and synergy they create [and, in this way,] people became the biggest, most valuable asset any company has, because all management plans for success enhancement are carried out, or fail to be carried out, by people.

Despite the fact that the World Bank (2014, p. 7) confirms that “part-time and temporary wage employment are now major features of industrial and developing countries”, part-time employment is only mentioned in one tenth of their job reports, and there are still only small numbers of employees working part-time in an executive position. With respect to Germany, a study of the EUROSTAT (2014) database of the European Commission has shown that the percentage of employees of 15 to 64 years working part-time has even been declining from 7.72% in 2010 to 5.81% in 2012. As Lawrence and Clark (1999, p. 1) illustrate, these numbers are getting more and more important, because with the increase in two-income and single parent families and changing demographics more generally, a growing number of organizations are moving toward flexible work arrangements in order to attract, retain, and utilize professionals who are unable or unwilling to work full time, and, furthermore, “part-time arrangements [...] are positively related to turnover” (Golden, 2012: 15).

The crux of the thesis will, therefore, be to investigate the practicability of part-time management and to solve the following question: How does the current situation of part-time managers in Europe look like and what should companies do for a successful implementation? In order to answer this question, this paper will firstly examine the difference between full-time and part-time managers and secondly take stock of the current situation in part-time management, on the basis of Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Based on these insights, the thesis will derive recommendations as to the measures companies should adopt in order to successfully implement a part-time alternative for their management employees. Therefore, the recommended actions will not only consider the challenges of the current economic situation but try to mitigate the decline of female managers, on the one hand (see figure 1), and, on the other hand, take into consideration the specific demands of the Generation Y workforce in contrast to the baby boomer generation, who currently occupies the management positions.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Development of female executives in Europe (in 1,000)

Source: EUROSTAT, 2014

In order to achieve the set research goals, the first chapter of the theoretical part will explain two different concepts of management. On the one hand, there is the classical full-time management which is “the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups” (Koontz, 1961, p. 174). On the other hand, there is part-time management which is defined by Lawrence and Clark (1999, p. 2) as permanent, year-round positions whose occupants were hired by the organization as their main job and have chosen to work part-time voluntarily. In contrast to secondary jobs, part-time professional positions tend to be created by the organization as a way of responding to a valued employee’s needs, or of attracting and retaining qualified professionals.

In the next theoretical part of the thesis, the current situation in Europe will be characterized in chapter three, represented by Germany, the Netherlands – for they are the leading country in part-time employment in Europe – and Switzerland. This report will include an examination of the gender distribution in leadership positions and its correlation with the respective share of part-time jobs as women tend to occupy the majority of part-time executive positions (EUROSTAT, 2014). Furthermore, this thesis will define what the Generation Y is and explain why companies have to adapt to the needs of this highly skilled and demanding generation.

The last part of the analysis concerning the actual situation will focus on the demand for executive positions in part-time. This subchapter will also analyse if part-time managers are satisfied with their amount of working time. In order to fulfil this objective, studies of Hipp and Stuth as well as Holst, Busch, and Kröger will be used.

To bridge theory and practice, the thesis will exhibit the factors needed for a successful implementation of the part-time concept at the management level. Therefore, the subsection will revise the current state of research and, additionally, illustrate the best practice example of the German insurance company HUK-Coburg. In order to complement the overview, the thesis will also identify the obstacles that might disrupt the implementation or extension of this concept and give recommendations on what may help a company to introduce the part-time executive.

To be more explicit about potential strategies, three different part-time working models for managers, namely job sharing, job splitting and a ‘light’ form of part-time working will be suggested and assessed as to their benefits.

The ultimate part of the thesis will deal with the hypothesis that the concept of a “part-time manager” will be useful in the long run, at least for a certain percentage of the management staff. Parting from this conclusion, the thesis will finally answer the question, why companies should implement a part-time alternative for their managers, and it will be shown that, regardless of its still poor reputation and limited distribution, this concept has the potential to influence a company positively in relation to various aspects.

2. Definition and explanation of key terms

This chapter aims to give an overview of the concepts and definitions of management based on different approaches and, particularly, on the theory of Henry Fayol. Furthermore, this chapter will examine the idea of part-time work on the basis of the agreed-upon weekly working time and on how companies handle a part-time employment in practice.

2.1 Management

In general, it is difficult to define management but throughout history several theorists, philosophers or administrators have developed some ideas that will help to discern the concept. One well-known working definition was forged, for instance, by Koontz (1961, p. 174), understanding management as “the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups”. Clegg, Kornberger and Pitsis (2011: 9), in turn, define management as “[…] the process of communicating, coordinating, and accomplishing action in the pursuit of organizational objectives while managing relationships with stakeholders, technologies, and other artefacts, both within as well as between organizations”. These definitions correlate to each other, because both of them are seeing the term management as complex and involving other people, this means that a manager cannot be one, if he or she does not coordinate with human-beings, and thereby strive for the defined goals.

One of the most influential contributors to the modern concepts of management, Henry Fayol, however, elaborated even two concepts of management.

Fayol’s (2013, pp. 43-110) first concept sees management as a combination of the five consecutive management elements, which are planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Following this definition, managers have to develop strategic objectives, plan for future circumstances and secure the realization of future goals. They must organise their staff and structure the planned activities. They must control, supervise and inspire their workforce and have to coordinate the different departments and units to achieve a positive work flow. Lastly, managers have to control the performed activities and ensure that these are consistent with the company’s goals (Fayol, 2013, pp. 43-110).

The second concept developed by Fayol (2013, p. 19) comprises the “General Principles of Management”, which go hand in hand with the above mentioned elements. These key strategies and characteristics are meant to teach managers how to organize and cooperate with their employees in a productive way.

The first principle is about the “division of work” and requires that there should not be a team of commonly educated people, but rather a team of specialized employees who become more and more skilled and efficient by working together (Fayol, 2013, p. 20).

The second principle, “authority”, means that managers must, on the one hand, have the authority to give orders but, on the other hand, must also remember that with authority comes responsibility (Fayol, 2013, pp. 21-22).

Fayol’s (2013, pp. 22-24) next principle, “discipline”, refers to the experience that control and rules must be executed in the company, but their degree of strictness may vary and is up to the management.

The subsequent principle, “unity of command”, states that employees should have only one direct supervisor; a ‘violation’ of this principle can lead to impairment of authority, the endangering of discipline and stability and the dissemination of orders (Fayol, 2013, pp. 24-25).

The fifth principle, “unity of direction”, is about the rule that teams following the same goal should also work for the same manager using one strategy. The reason for this norm is that only in so doing the implementation will be appropriately coordinated (Fayol, 2013, pp. 25-26).

Fayol’s (2013, p. 26) next principle, “subordination of individual interests to the general interests”, basically states that the interests of one person should not take priority over the interests of the organization as a whole.

The seventh principle, “remuneration of personnel”, is on the requirement that employees should get a fair compensation, both financial and non-financial, to be adequately rewarded for successful efforts (Fayol, 2013, pp. 26-32).

The following principle is called “centralization” and means that the “question of centralization or decentralization [...] is a simple question of proportion, it is a matter of finding the optimum degree for the particular concern” (Fayol, 2013: 33). So, absolute centralization normally only exists in smaller firms, where the orders go directly from the manager to the employee.

Fayol´s (2013, pp. 34-36) next principle, the “scalar chain”, describes a symbolic line of power that moves from the highest to the lowest positions in an uninterrupted, single chain and has to be sensible, clear and discerned.

The tenth principle, which is “order”, refers to the best possible engagements of the workplace in terms of facilities, materials and employees in order to achieve the most efficient work processes (Fayol, 2013, pp. 36-38).

The following principle is on “equity”, which means that managers should treat their subordinates in a way that these can develop a feeling of commitment and affinity for their work. Furthermore, all employees should be treated neutrally and equally (Fayol, 2013, p. 38).

Fayol’s (2013, p. 38-39) next principle is “stability of tenure of personnel”, which describes the effect that employees work better when job security and career progress are secured to them. To the contrary, an insecure occupation and a high rate of employee turnover will affect the organization unfavourably.

The penultimate principle, which is “initiative”, emphasizes that all personnel should be given a certain level of autonomy to accomplish and create plans (Fayol, 2013, pp. 39-40).

The fourteenth and last principle is “esprit de corps” (Fayol, 2013, p. 40) or team spirit and says that managers should constantly make efforts to generate a good team spirit among their subordinates (Fayol, 2013, pp. 40-41).

These principles are a guideline for managers and should help them to achieve efficiency among their subordinates and create a workplace that emphasises commitment and motivation.

2.2 Part-time employment

As the OECD (van Bastelaer, Lemaître, Marianna, 1997, p. 12) “has decided to opt for a definition of part-time work based on a 30 usual hours threshold”, the ILO (2014, p. 6) gives a broader definition of part-time employment as “hours of work that are shorter than those for comparable full-time work (in the country, sector, and occupation)”. Nevertheless, this organisation also gives some concrete indications confirming that, for instance in “the United States, it is generally defined as less than 35 hours a week, in Germany less than 36 hours, while in Canada and the United Kingdom 30 hours is normally used as the cut-off point” (ILO, 2012, p. 4).

Consequently, it is up to the company how they handle a part-time model. Thus, part-time models can range from the stepwise re-entry, for instance after maternity leave, to full-time-based approaches, such as the four-day week. Part-time is especially demanded in stages of life in which children or relatives have to be taken care of. Furthermore, working part-time is often used in stages of traineeship. From an operational perspective, the integration of part-time workers offers a number of opportunities regarding a higher productivity and motivation but also with respect to flexibility, for instance, by employing part-time workers on days with increased workload.

2.3 Chapter summary

“Management” is a wide-ranging concept which can hardly be defined. Nevertheless, there have been made several attempts by analysts like Koontz or Henry Fayol. Especially the latter developed several theories and principles, which today are highly acknowledged and adopted by the majority of the managers. His most recognized basics are the five consecutive management elements and the fourteen principles of management.

Also the definition of part-time employment varies very strongly in different countries. Actually, there is even no central European law but at least a state of best practices. Deducing from these examples, it can be said that an employee works part-time if he or she works significantly less than his or her colleagues, usually less than 30 hours per week.

3. Current situation in Europe

In this chapter, the current situation of managers working part-time will be examined and differentiated by continent, country and gender. However, the closer look will have to be limited to the countries Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway or Denmark, on the contrary, which are typically prime examples for innovative economic structures and systems, will not be taken into consideration in this thesis as they have the lowest numbers of part-time employment for managers. In Denmark, there are even no part-time managers at all (EUROSTAT, 2014) and, concerning the work-life balance, Denmark, Norway and Sweden hold the first, fifth and sixth place in the Better Life Index of the OECD (2013). Consequently, these countries have no need for an executive part-time alternative as they are already satisfied with the actual working conditions.

The reason for choosing Germany as representative was the fact that it has the highest gross domestic product (EUROSTAT, 2014), the Netherlands are the country with the highest part-time executive share in the European Union (EUROSTAT, 2014; see figure 2), and Switzerland was selected due to the fact that it has the highest executive part-time rates in continental Europe (EUROSTAT, 2014; see figure 2).

Another topic discussed in this chapter will be the different ratios of men and women executives working part-time, leading to the generalized hypothesis that more women work as a part-time manager than men.

The overall situation concerning the topic is that the number of managers working part-time had been rising until 2010 (see figure 2) but then decreased drastically due to the Euro crisis in 2009 (Wyplosz, 2014, p. 61-62). Since then, the numbers are still declining but in general more steady, reaching in 2013 65.54% of the record level in 2010 with 1,272,000 managers working part-time (EUROSTAT, 2014).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Part-time managers in Europe (in 1,000)

Source: EUROSTAT, 2014

Among the European countries that have the highest number of managers working part-time, the Netherlands occupy the first place with 19.18%, followed by the United Kingdom with 10.25%, Austria with 7.41%, Belgium with 7.37%, Ireland with 7.15%, France with 6.22% and Germany with 5.84% (EUROSTAT, 2014). Two outliers are, on the one hand, Switzerland, which has the highest executive part-time rate in continental Europe with 20.26%, and, on the other hand, Iceland, which would have to be ranked between Ireland and France with 6.70% (EUROSTAT, 2014). So, where does this difference in numbers come from? Hipp and Stuth (2013: 3-4, own translation) argue that besides the organization of work and individual characteristics, the country-specific context plays an important role.


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Part-time management in Europe. The current situation and recommendations for the implementation
Cologne Business School Köln
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Teilzeit, Teilzeitführung, Management, Part-time, part time;, parttime, führen in teilzeit, part-time management
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Jan-Philipp Krämer (Author), 2014, Part-time management in Europe. The current situation and recommendations for the implementation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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