RecensionsBook Reviews

Industrial Relations: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management edited by John Kelly, London: Routledge, 2002, Volumes 1-5, ISBN 0-415-22986-3.[Record]

  • Geoffrey Wood

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  • Geoffrey Wood
    Middlesex University

This edited five-volume set brings together a wide range of influential articles on industrial relations that are explicitly critical and/or international in orientation. With some notable exceptions, most of the articles date from the 1990s, a period characterized by the continued rise of neo-liberal ideologies and associated managerialism, yet, by the close of that decade, also by a resurgence in radical scholarship. As with all subsequent volumes, the first volume is divided into two halves: the first half includes a number of classic and more contemporary approaches to the discipline, whilst the second looks at changes in national systems of industrial relations. The former half encompasses both classic pluralist (Flanders) and radical accounts (Hyman and Brown), and more contemporary approaches. The latter includes recent work on the role of managerial strategic choice in determining workplace outcomes (Kochan et al.), rather more bleak accounts on the seemingly terminal nature of union decline and its implications for industrial relations scholarship (Kaufman), and the editor’s own recent efforts to revitalize the radical tradition, by pointing to the wave-like nature of union decline—and resurgence—and collective action, and its relationship to economic long waves. The remaining two chapters look at industrial relations issues from a feminist perspective. Wacjman (chapter 8) asserts that employment relations and work remain gendered, as does much industrial relations scholarship; hence the discipline needs to redefined. The second half of Volume 1 is given over to changes in national IR systems and in the global economy. The first three chapters of this section are international in orientation, looking at globalization (Radice), the convergence/divergence debate (Kitschelt et al.) and comparative trends in Europe (Ross and Martin). The Radice chapter is of particular interest in that it underscores the nature of globalization as a contested phenomenon, rather than as an inevitable process labour unions and other social actors simply have to “cope with”. This is followed by country studies on the U.K. (Millward et al.), the United States (Osterman), Germany (Hassel) and Japan (Sako), and brief overviews of changes in Africa (Mihyo and Schiphorst) and transitional Europe (Pollert). The first half of Volume 2—rather ambitiously—covers both labour markets and the labour process, whilst the second looks at the changing fortunes of organized labour. The first half is a very diverse section but encompasses both overviews of changes in employment security and studies on new forms of work organization. The opening chapter (Cappelli) looks at the effects of non-standard contracts, followed by an exploration as to the nature and possibilities of consumerism vis-à-vis the relations of production (Sayer and Walker), workplace transformation and the quality of the employment relationship (Milkman), trends in lean production in Japanese enterprises (Berggren), tendencies towards growing job insecurity (Heery and Salmon), and an excellent overview by the OECD’s research department on the nature of earnings inequality and the relative extent of low paid employment in different national contexts. The second half of this volume encompasses studies on trends in trade union organization in a range of different national contexts (Golden et al., and Hancke), the extent of convergence towards the Anglo-Saxon model (Boyer), the implications of declining union membership in the U.S. (Freeman), theoretical accounts of the logic of collective action (Offe and Wiesenthal), union renewal and the organizing model (Wever, and Bronfenbrenner and Juravich respectively), and social movement unionism (Moody and Hirschsohn). Part I of Volume 3 looks at the role of employers, and Part II, the state. The former includes the increasing prominence of trans-European companies and the implications for industrial relations—according particular attention to pressures towards deregulation (Marginson and Sisson), the effects of participation and involvement, …