Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations: Volume 14


Table of contents

(13 chapters)


Pages v-vi
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Pages ix-xiv
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The past two decades have witnessed a transformation in the corporate human resource (HR) function – moving away from a role of balancing multiple interests toward a narrower focus on business objectives – yet we know little about how this change occurred. This study finds that the functional backgrounds of senior HR managers played an important role in determining the changing health benefits of large corporations. Managers with finance backgrounds controlled costs more than those with traditional HR backgrounds and contracted with fewer health plans – yet surprisingly without measured differences in health care quality management. These results suggest that more attention should be paid to the backgrounds of managers in the wider evolution of HR.

This paper develops and tests a new integrative theoretical framework for the study of workplace conflict that links the literatures of such disciplines as organization behavior, industrial relations, management, psychology, sociology, and social movement. It provides testable hypotheses where conflict is structurally blocked by laws, organizational rules, or social norms. It is hypothesized that a blockage of one expression will cause conflict to take on more covert forms of that same expression and to shift to other permitted forms.

In a test of the theory in municipal collective bargaining, the paper found that conflict that was structurally blocked in the form of strikes was redirected to both covert collective actions (sick-outs, slowdowns, etc.), other permitted collective actions (e.g., unfair labor practices) and such individual expressions as grievances.

There would appear to be a promising agenda for future research into the other cases described in the framework. For example, from the nonunion employer where collective actions are prohibited but individual grievances allowed it is hypothesized that such covert conflict as absenteeism, theft, or sabotage will be reduced. On the other hand, these same nonunion firms are predicted to have higher levels of individual conflict than unionized firms where both strikes and grievances are permitted.

Future research that evaluates workplace conflict resolution ought to take into account the complex relationships between conflict expressions suggested in the new framework. The temptation of researchers to study one expression at a time should be resisted.

This paper argues that creative compliance tactics are an innovative union renewal strategy. Creative compliance involves the observance of the letter of the law while undermining its spirit. This regulatory inconsistency stems from indeterminate legal outcomes and discretion in legal interpretation and application. Drawing on interviews with senior union officials in four case studies in Australia, this paper reveals that two particular types of creative compliance tactics have been used by the unions to achieve positive outcomes: work-to-rule and the exploitation of loopholes. These opportunistic and proactive approaches to ‘anti-union’ legislation at the national level since 1997 represent a sea change in union tactics and a viable union renewal strategy, because they augment the individual ability of unions to shape and advance an agenda and therefore, adapt and transform at an organisational level. Consistent with adaptation theories on organisational-environment relations and strategic choice theory, the findings reinforce that unions ‘own’ strategic choices and that they can, in response to environmental scanning, adjust their tactics accordingly.

This chapter considers the provocative yet unexplored idea that a relationship exists between the nature by which a union wins recognition from an employer and the collective bargaining outcomes that are produced. Since at least the Ronald Reagan Administration, many trade, service and industrial unions in the United States have deployed alterative means to win recognition. Unions have negotiated a host of neutrality and card-check agreements as alternatives to petitioning for elections under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board. The use of these diverse organizing mechanisms has been well documented by numerous authors writing in the “union revitalization” genre, but what has not been done is the evaluation of the bargaining outcomes – effects – of different organizing tactics. The critical questions that have not been answered until now are, “What difference does it make how a union wins recognition?” Are the fortunes of newly organized union workers influenced by the way that they are brought into the labor movement? Based on a ten-year review of several successful union organizing cases, the findings from this chapter suggest that the key variable in gaining certification and ultimately a first contract is the ability of the union to leverage power and to do so in a timely manner.

Labor management cooperation, and the adoption of high-performance work systems (HPWS), are central topics in recent industrial relations research, with much emphasis given to “best-practice” success stories. This paper uses a case study analysis, relying on conventional, and oral history interviews, to explore why managers, union leaders, and workers in two Maine paper mills rejected the cooperation and the HPWS model. It explores how local history and culture, regional factors like the dramatic International Paper (IP) strike in Jay, Maine, instability in industry labor relations, management turnover, and instability in corporate governance contributed to these two mills’ rejection of Scott Paper Corporation's “Jointness” initiative during the period from 1988 to 1995. The study argues that intra-management divisions blocked cooperation on the management side, and that the Jay strike created a “movement culture” among Maine's paper workers, who developed a class-conscious critique of HPWS as a tactic in class warfare being perpetrated by paper corporations.

The recent introduction of the European Directive on information and consultation and its forthcoming implementation into United Kingdom (UK) law has increased the focus on workplace representation arrangements. This paper examines the interplay between non-union and union representative arrangements at Eurotunnel (UK) and assesses their effectiveness in representing the needs of employees over a five-year period. Importantly, the paper also examines the pros and cons of both non-union employee representation and union voice arrangements. The findings show that the effectiveness of non-union structures as bodies representing the interests of employees in filling the lack of representation is questionable. However, union recognition through an employer-union partnership agreement has also raised important issues regarding the effectiveness, impact and legitimacy of unions at Eurotunnel. The main implication of this research is that the existence of a mechanism – union or non-union – for communication between management and employees at the workplace may not be a sufficient condition for representation of employee interests. Effective employee voice over workplace issues may be essential for achieving and maintaining employee satisfaction. Voice, the right to be heard and having influence over workplace issues and at times an acknowledgement of differing interests may be essential conditions for more effective decision-making process.

France has a long tradition of research on labor and employment issues dating back to the emergence of the “Social Question” in the 1830s. Yet, the field identified as industrial relations (IR) emerged slowly in France and has not achieved the institutional status it did in Anglo-Saxon countries. French universities have no IR departments and there are no academic journals with IR on the title. Teaching takes place within different disciplines and research produces an abundant literature, which does not always claim the IR label.

The concept of “industrial relations”, translated as “relations professionnelles”, started to be used in France only after World War II (WWII). The terms commonly used both before WWII and even nowadays alongside IR are “relations du travail” (labor relations) or “relations sociales” (social relations). Even though “industrial relations” might not always be the label used, a distinctive French IR tradition exists nonetheless which this paper identifies and presents.

The paper starts with the forerunners at the origins of the field of IR in France, high ranking civil servants who played a role not only in the development of French but even of international industrial relations, and represented a “problem-solving” approach to IR. The emergence of IR as a field of research with a self-recognized academic community bent on “science building”, however, mostly followed the evolution of IR practice in France in the post-WWII period, which the paper then analyzes, presenting the IR milieu in France through its research structures, theoretical debates and challenging prospects.

The paper provides an empirical analysis of the development of and perspectives on industrial relations (IR) in Germany. The first part deals with forms and degrees of institutionalization, which can be used as measures of the maturity and the potential impact of an academic discipline: IR within universities and research institutes, the professional organization, journals, and textbooks. More recent developments are more in line with those in other continental European states than with Anglo-Saxon countries. The weak, slowly progressing degree of institutionalization leads to the conclusion that IR does not constitute a unitary academic discipline. Nevertheless, research and scholarly interest exist. The second part surveys the structure of scholarly research and disciplinary participation. The German case reveals both common and divergent features compared to other countries. An obvious feature of IR is its disciplinary rather than holistic and interdisciplinary character. Empirical research has been less quantitative, and in more recent times less econometrically oriented than in some other countries. Human resource management's (HRM) institutional as well as personal ties with IR are weak and interdisciplinary debates are rare. Another distinctive feature is the large significance of labor law whose study also follows the strict departmentalization of the university structure in Germany. Empirical research in law is still rare and has definitely no solid position within law schools. On the other hand, industrial sociology has had a substantial impact on IR research for several decades and has covered various parts of IR territory. The third part discusses research topics. For quite some time, trade unions and collective bargaining have been the dominant topic. More recently, the focus of interest has shifted from the meso (sectoral or branch) to the micro (enterprise or shop floor) level. Various forms of codetermination, the institutionalized forms of participation in managerial decision-making, have constituted the other traditional research subject. Throughout the 1990s, the process of German unification constituted a “critical juncture” for IR and was an unexpected new topic. More recently, this kind of “unification research” has come to a natural end. Since the early 1990s, there has been a remarkable increase in scholarly work on IR issues concerning employment regulation and governance within the European Union. Last but not least, some traditionally ignored topics are discussed. Numerous labor market-related issues have been of very limited interest for the core of the IR community. Interest in types of atypical or non-standard employment has remained limited. The same limited attention is true for IR in the expanding non-union sector. Another neglected topic is labor relations in the public sector. The outlook discusses future trajectories of IR research. It is argued that the prospects will be encouraging if younger scholars manage to develop a broader, more integrative definition of the field (e.g., “regulation of all aspects of the employment relationship”).

While the origin of Korean Industrial Relations goes back 150 years when the country opened its seaports to foreign countries, it didn’t emerge as a field of study until 1950s when academics began to write books and papers on the Korean labor movement, labor laws, and labor economics. In this paper, we sketch this history and describe important events and people that contributed to the development of industrial relations in Korea. Korean industrial relations in the early 20th century were significantly distorted by the 35-year-Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945). After regaining its independence, the U.S. backed, growth-oriented, military-based, authoritarian Korean government followed suit and consistently suppressed organized labor until 1987. Finally, the 1987 Great Labor Offensive allowed the labor movement to flourish in a democratized society. Three groups were especially influential in the field of industrial relations in the early 1960s: labor activists, religious leaders, and university faculty. Since then, numerous scholars have published books and papers on Korean industrial relations, whose perspectives, goals, and processes are still being debated and argued. The Korean Industrial Relations Association (KIRA) was formed on March 25, 1990 and many other academic and practitioner associations have also come into being since then. The future of industrial relations as a field of study in Korea does not seem bright, however. Issues regarding organized labor are losing attention because of a steadily shrinking unionization rate, changing societal attitude toward labor unions, and the enactment of new and improved laws and regulations regarding employment relationships more broadly. Thus, we suggest that emerging issues such as contingent workers, works councils and tripartite partnership, conflict management, and human rights will be addressed by the field of industrial relations in Korea only if this field breaks with its traditional focus on union and union–management relations.

With the decentralization and deregulation of the labor market over the past decade or so, there has been considerable debate about the future of industrial relations as a discipline or field of enquiry in Australia. Much of this literature assumes a discipline in decline, or at least at a crossroads, in terms of its purpose and continued relevance. In order to both evaluate these general claims and provide a more nuanced understanding of the future of the field in Australia, this chapter examines industrial relations in terms of three major dimensions: as a field of teaching, research, and practice. This exercise reveals important differences about the situation facing the discipline. Despite advances by human resource management (HRM) in universities, the teaching of industrial relations remains important even if its separate identity is contracting slightly at the present time. In terms of research, the multi-disciplinary and policy-oriented approach has much to contribute to understanding the changing world of industrial relations in Australia and remains a strong dimension of the field. However, in the area of industrial relations practice we observe a major decline as industrial relations and human resource professionals in Australia have become less important both in the wider regulation of work and within business organizations. We conclude that the field needs to broaden its focus to ‘work and employment relations’, seek more theoretically informed ways to explain contemporary developments in labor markets and societies, while at the same time remain committed to its traditional goals of equity and efficiency.

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Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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