Research Network Project: "Regulating for Decent Work"

The aim of the Regulating for Decent Work (RDW) project is to develop a coherent response to the arguments against labour laws that have dominated employment policy in recent years. It also aims to advance research and policy directions tailored towards making labour market regulation more effective. To this end, it questions whether the goal of improving working life can be advanced through legal regulation, and whether carefully designed labour regulations and enforcement mechanisms, rather than a retreat from labour laws, may be a more promising avenue for future social and economic progress.


Labour rights in the globalization debates

The standard account of the role of labour regulation reflected in mainstream neo-classical economic theory is that deregulation facilitates economic growth. This perspective has generated vast bodies of work towards developing theoretical underpinnings for the reform of labour laws and promoting deregulation in a variety of policy arenas. In recent years, deregulatory discourses have gained ground at the international level. A recent manifestation of this approach, for example, is found in the work of the World Bank, which has made highly visible efforts to promote deregulation of domestic labour law regimes in its Doing Business indices

Alternative approaches to labour market regulation

In contrast to this line of deregulatory theory, the work of labour lawyers and institutional economists among others, offers accounts of labour market regulation in which labour standards are understood to be fundamental social rights that can be integrated with the instrumental goal of promoting economic development. Promising avenues of recent scholarship also question how legal measures can be redesigned or enhanced to more readily realize their objectives. This work explores how labour rights can be advanced in more effective ways than available solely in conventional "command and control" mechanisms, through new or overlooked regulatory techniques such as financial incentives, government contracts, codes of practice etc.

The network

RDW is a collaboration between researchers at the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law, at Melbourne Law School, and academic and policy institutions from across the world. The project is interdisciplinary and involves researchers from a range of fields including economics, law, sociology and industrial relations.

If you are conducting research in line with the objectives of the RDW network and would like it to be made available or listed on this site, please let us know.

The project

The activities of the RDW project have two main objectives:

  • to highlight and advance research on integrating labour rights into economic growth strategies
  • to make available to as wide as possible an audience a principled and coherent argument for retaining and advancing labour rights in the globalized economy.

Conference on regulating for Decent Work

The RDW network organizes its conference every two years.

5th RDW conference: The Future of Work (3-5 July 2017, Geneva, Switzerland)

4th RDW conference: Developing and Implementing Policies for a Better Future at Work (8-10 July 2015, Geneva, Switzerland)

Conference on Developing and Implementing Policies for a Better Future at Work, 8-10 July 2015: Call for Abstracts

3rd RDW conference: Regulating for Equitable and Job‐Rich Growth (3-5 July 2013, Geneva, Switzerland)

2nd RDW conference: Regulating for a Fair Recovery (6-8 July 2011, Geneva, Switzerland)

1ST RDW conference: 1st Conference on Regulating for Decent Work: Innovative labour regulation in a turbulent world (RDW), 8-10 July 2009