Dr. Andrea M. Herrmann

Associate Professor – Utrecht University

Research

Research Interests

political economy, institutional theory, entrepreneurship, innovation management, corporate strategy, industrial relations (gig economy), economic European integration, quantitative and qualitative research methodology

Research Projects

Andrea M. Herrmann is involved in numerous national and international research collaborations. In her research, she investigates the influence of national institutions on economic activity across Western economies. In addition to various individual collaborations, her research includes three major projects:

1. Varieties of Digital Labour Markets:
Institutional Influences on the Gig Economy

Within the framework of an NWO Vidi project, this research investigates the institutional foundations of the gig economy across Europe and the US. The ‘gig economy’ - enabling the hiring of service workers via internet-based platforms - is revolutionizing traditional employment. With offer and demand of labour meeting online, the gig economy implies a genuine globalisation of work: Gig jobs are accessible for workers (or ‘taskers’) around the world.

The socio-economic consequences are massive, ranging from increased work-autonomy to the possible erosion of labour standards. The latter is particularly acute, because gig work is not covered by traditional employment legislation. To enable a meaningful regulation, research about the gig economy is urgently needed – yet hardly existent.

The project takes up this challenge by asking how national labour-market institutions influence (1) the participation of national workforces in the gig economy and (2) its regulation. It is expected (1) that the extent and types of gig work, and the motives for it, are institutionally conditioned. Similarly, it is hypothesized (2) that the coverage and contents of regulatory proposals, drafted by the social partners, is influenced by labour-market institutions. Empirically, these hypotheses are tested (1) through a large-N survey of gig workers and (2) through semi-structured interviews with the social partners in seven Western economies.

The contributions are fourfold: Theoretically, a novel institutional theory about service-sector work in digital labour markets is developed. Empirically, two databases are created on - hitherto underexplored - service-sector work. Methodologically, an innovative multi-method approach enables both static and dynamic insights. Societally, the findings will be shared with the Dutch social partners and Socio-Economic Council to facilitate gig-economy regulation in the Netherlands.

2. Varieties of Entrepreneurship:
Institutional Influences on Venture Creation Processes

Within the framework of the H2020 project “FIRES”, this research investigates differences in start-up processes between the US, Germany, the UK, and Italy. Agreement is broad amongst entrepreneurship researchers and policy-makers alike that entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic prosperity. Consequently, policies aiming at the stimulation of entrepreneurship – like the provision of subsidies, matching funds, or counselling – are wide-spread in Europe. Given the belief in entrepreneurship policies as a means to stimulate venture creation, it is striking to note that entrepreneurial activities in general, and innovative entrepreneurial ventures in particular, remain systematically less developed in Europe than in the US.

The project investigates this puzzle by analysing how different labour- and financial-market institutions influence the ways in which entrepreneurs approach venture creation in the US, UK, Germany, and Italy. Based on sequence analyses (originally used to decode the human genome) applied to a novel dataset on the timing of start-up processes, this project shows how institutional differences translate into different approaches to venture creation, thus requiring individualized policy support to facilitate venture creation.

3. Varieties of Capitalism:
Institutional Influences on Corporate Innovation Strategies

This research project examines how firms adapt to the pressures of increasing international competition by testing the arguments on ‘strategy specialization’ proposed in the competitiveness literature in general, and by contributors to the ‘varieties of capitalism’ debate in particular. If different economies are characterized by distinct institutional arrangements, successful firms would be those that exploit the related comparative advantages and specialize in the competitive strategies facilitated by national institutions.

The development of high-tech industries in several continental European countries provides puzzling counterevidence to this argument: The plurality of pharmaceutical firms in Germany, Italy, and the UK compete through strategies that are not supported by national institutions. The research project therefore asks how firms compete despite comparative institutional disadvantages. In doing so, specific attention is paid to the impact of labour-market institutions, financial systems, antitrust legislation, and the academic system on corporate competitiveness.