Evaluating internships in terms of governance structures: contract, duration and partnership

David Lain, Kari Hadjivassiliou, Antonio Corral Alza, Iñigo Isusi, Jacqueline O'Reilly, Victoria Richards, Sue Will

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – This paper aims to evaluate internships in terms of governance structures. Internships are being promoted as a European Union policy lever to address high youth unemployment. However, concerns exist that internships often have few developmental opportunities and poor employment outcomes, something this conceptual paper examines. Design/methodology/approach – The authors develop a conceptual framework for distinguishing between different types of internships based on “dimensions of governance” (contract, agreed duration and partnership).Adistinction is made between “open market”, “educational” and “active labour market policy” internships, drawing on examples and evidence from Spain and Portugal. Findings – The authors argue that “governed” internships, linked to educational programmes or genuine active labour market policies, are much more likely to have beneficial outcomes than “open market internships”. This is because they provide the positive governance conditions relating to contract, duration and partnership arrangements under which employers, interns and third parties understand how they can benefit from the internship and what their responsibilities are. Research limitations/implications – The strength of the paper lies in outlining an analytical framework for future research. The evidence presented from Spain and Portugal provides support for the conceptual framework; future comparative internship research should further test the propositions made across a range of countries and contexts. Social implications – By increasing understanding of internship governance, employers, policymakers and educationalists will be in a better position to design successful internships. Originality/value – The paper broadens the focus beyond educational internships alone and proposes a conceptual framework for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-603
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014


  • Governance
  • Youth unemployment
  • Internships
  • Vocational educational and training


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