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Industrial relations in Poland: Historical background, institutional evolution and research trends

Jan Czarzasty (Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Economic Sociology, Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland)
Adam Mrozowicki (Institute of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wrocław, Wroclaw, Poland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 30 May 2018

Issue publication date: 8 June 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the interrelations between the evolution of industrial relations (IR) and IR research in Poland in the historical context. Two questions are put forward: How was the evolution of the IR system in Poland influenced by the re-constitution of a particular model of the capitalism and the strategies and struggle of IR actors? How were the ways of approaching and theorizing IR influenced by the aforementioned evolution?


The paper draws upon academic literature, secondary data on actors and processes of IR as well as four expert interviews with the representatives of the first generation of IR scholars in Poland.


The paper suggests that the development of the IR system and the related scholarship can be divided into three phases: the pre-1989 period characterised by the lack of autonomous interests representation and rather limited IR research; the early development of the post-1989 IR system marked by the debates on the integrative role of IR as peacekeeping mechanism in the period of deep economic and political changes (1989-2004); the post-EU accession consolidation of the IR system characterised by the weakness of the IR actors vis-à-vis the state and increasing neo-etatist tendencies.


This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on the relationships between the emergent models of Eastern European capitalism and the evolution of IR systems. It critically analyses the state of the discussion on the IR field Poland emphasising the relevance of political-economic factors as well as the ideology of “social peace” for both the evolution of the IR system in the country and the state of the IR debate.



Czarzasty, J. and Mrozowicki, A. (2018), "Industrial relations in Poland: Historical background, institutional evolution and research trends", Employee Relations, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 674-691.



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