Cooperative VET in training networks – analysing the free-rider problem in a sociology-of-conventions perspective
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In training networks, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises pool their resources to train apprentices within the framework of the dual VET system, while an intermediary organisation is tasked with managing operations. Over the course of their apprenticeship, the apprentices switch from one training company to another on a (half-) yearly basis. Drawing on a case study of four training networks in Switzerland and the theoretical framework of the sociology of conventions, this paper aims to understand the reasons for the slow dissemination and reluctant adoption of this promising form of organising VET in Switzerland. The results of the study show that the system of moving from one company to another creates a variety of free-rider constellations in the distribution of the collectively generated corporative benefits. This explains why companies are reluctant to participate in this model. For the network to be sustainable, the intermediary organisation has to address discontent arising from free-rider problems while taking into account that the solutions found are always tentative and will often result in new free-rider Problems.