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The Radicalisation of Industrial Relations Theory

Stephen Wood (Lecturer in Industrial Relations, The London School of Economics and Political Science)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 1 March 1976


It is now widely accepted, perhaps with some qualifications, that the dominant British school of industrial relations in recent years has been the liberal‐pluralist or volutaristic‐pluralist school. Its centre has been Oxford and its main members have included Hugh Clegg, the late Allan Flanders, W E J McCarthy, G S Bain and A Fox. The influence of this group has been exhibited in its impact not only on industrial relations teaching and research, but also on policy, especially through the Donovan Report. Indeed, several writers have chosen to characterize it as a problem‐solving rather than a theoretical approach. However, it is important to acknowledge that a practical orientation may not in itself constitute an a‐theoretical position. Hyman and Fryer thus, for example, use the label ‘pragmatism’ to describe a component of the theoretical orientation of the ‘Oxford school’, thus recognizing that while its ‘theory may be only semi‐articulated and ….. partially developed’, the work of the school is not a‐theoretical.


Wood, S. (1976), "The Radicalisation of Industrial Relations Theory", Personnel Review, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 52-57.




Copyright © 1976, MCB UP Limited