Project Information

The construction industry in the process of change – actors, institutions and challenges

Goal and task

The study focuses on the structures and functioning of the construction industry with its actors and institutions. The sector is facing far-reaching changes – caused, among other things, by increasing digitalization, internationalization, changing company structures, new construction processes and materials as well as a labour market and qualification conditions which have considerably changed in some respects. This represents an overall challenge for companies, company interest groups, trade unions and employers' associations. Foreseeable problems in the sector include changes in the employee structure and growing problems in recruiting and retaining skilled workers. The fragmentation of production structures not only hampers the diffusion of innovations, but is also accompanied by the danger of growing precariousness of employment relationships.


In 2000, the book "Der Bauarbeitsmarkt" (Bosch/Zühlke-Robinet 2000), a comprehensive study on the sociology and economy of the German construction industry, was published, which examined the structures and institutions of the sector at that time. The construction industry is particularly interesting not only because of its high economic importance, but also due to its specific labor market structures and collective bargaining systems. Since these findings are now almost 20 years old and the construction labour market has changed significantly since then, there is a need for comprehensive updating and analysis of new trends and challenges.

The study aims to draw a current and differentiated picture of the sector and to identify and analyse development trends, needs for change and challenges as well as possible solutions to existing or foreseeable problems from the perspective of employers, trade unions and other stakeholders. Economic developments are examined as well as trends and changes in employment and the labour market and in industrial relations (e.g. collective bargaining policy, minimum wages, and social security funds). Further central topics are challenges and new ways of securing skilled workers, changes in the area of political regulation and internationalization of construction labour markets, as well as opportunities, risks and design requirements arising from increasing digitalization and new construction processes.

To answer the research questions, a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods is applied: the study comprises several work packages – including a broad-based Internet-based survey of employees in the construction industry, interviews with experts from the union, employer associations and other actors as well as in-depth company case studies. In addition, an analysis of official statistics and data from social security funds will be carried out.


Frederic Hüttenhoff: Harte Arbeit. Bauarbeiter aus Mittel- und Osteuropa und das Werkvertragssystem in Deutschland. Vorstellung einer Studie zu migrantischer Beschäftigung im Baugewerbe, 14.12.2023  Weitere Informationen

Frederic Hüttenhoff, Dr. Angelika Kümmerling: Arbeitszufriedenheit und Wechselwunsch im Baugewerbe. Ergebnisse einer Beschäftigtenbefragung unter Gewerkschaftsmitgliedern . Bezirksbeiratssitzung der IG BAU Mülheim-Essen-Oberhausen, Essen , 22.11.2022

Project data

Term of the project:
01.10.2018 - 30.04.2021

Reseach department:
Flexibility and Security

Project management:
Dr. Claudia Weinkopf,Prof. Dr. Gerhard Bosch

Project team:
Frederic Hüttenhoff,Dr. Angelika Kümmerling