Les auteurs retiennent certains éléments pertinents à l'analyse systémique en relations industrielles et tentent de dégager une conception plus claire de ce champ d'étude.
This article considers the concept of an industrial relations System. First, the Systems approach is described and its implications for the field of industrial relations are discussed. The treatment of each element of the Systems approach, by different authors, is examined. Second, an attempt is made to apply these elements to industrial relations and to present a more complète view of this field of study. The Systems concept, which originated in the natural sciences, rapidly became a key concept in many disciplines. In some respects, the Systems approach's appeal is due to its inherent notions of order and logic. The elements of the concept are: definition of the system; description of its parts; relations among the parts; the operational dimension of the System; its static-dynamic dimension; its closed-openedimension; validity. A system may be defined as a complex set of interrelated variables. Functionally speaking, these variables are commonly identified as dependent, independent and intervening variables. The dependent variable is the heart of the system. It is what we seek to explain through the independent variables. Intervening variables are those which affect relationships between dependent and independent variables. The operational dimensionrefers to the distinction between operational and conceptual Systems, as well as to the system's validity,defined as its capability to reflect reality adequately. The openness of a system may be defined as the continuous exchange between the system and its environment. This flow of exchanges is essential to the system's viability. This dimension also refers to the existence of levels of Systems. Finally, the system's dynamism refers to its capability to adapt to potential changes. Table I summarizes the ideas developed by several authors regarding these characteristics of the Systems approach. Analysis of the Systems concept as it is currently used by authors in the Industrial Relations (I.R.) field reveals considerable neglect of the various characterictics of the Systems approach. (An analytical list of authors is available on request.) Despite this neglect and the lack of a common definition of the dependent variable for the industrial relations system, we can nevertheless arrive at a tentative characterization of an I.R. system. It appears to be concerned with the process of rules creation and particularly with collective bargaining, although a few authors consider «manpower» as a more adequate dependent variable. With respect to the other characteristics of the Systems approach, an I.R. system appears to be dynamic (changes may occur in the relationships between variables and variables themselves may change), open (there are levels of Systems) and allowing causal relationships. Finally, its validity rests upon the capability to reflect the real world and make predictions. The authors offer a model of an I.R. system that takes into account the main dimensions of the Systems approach. Their proposai is illustrated in Diagram I: manpower, the dependent variable, is defined differently for each level considered, namely the micro level (worker), the group level (salaried employees, all the workers of an organization) and the macro or societal level (manpower). The diagram also reflects the characterization of an I.R. System as open, dynamic and allowing for causal relationships. The precision of measure of the relationships is a measure of the conceptual model's validity. The authors offer only a rough sketch of an. I.R. System that needs to be improved by both practitioners and theoreticians. Hopefully, this will allow Industrial Relations to become a discipline in its own right, rather than a fïeld of investigations for researchers in various other disciplines.
Download the article in PDF to read it.