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Industrial relations in crisis?: the ‘new industrial relations' theory and the field of industrial relations in Britain

Voskeritsian, Horen (2009) Industrial relations in crisis?: the ‘new industrial relations' theory and the field of industrial relations in Britain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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A common feeling among the Industrial Relations community is that the field faces a crisis that challenges both its ability to address the phenomena it studies and its institutional structures. However, the literature is not clear on the reasons for this development. Some argue, predominantly in Britain, that the cause of this crisis is the penetration of Human Resource Management (HRM) or, as this trend is also known, of the New Industrial Relations (NIR) theory, in the intellectual and institutional edifice of the field. Others, however, especially from the US, believe that the reason for the inability of the field to deal with the external environment is its adherence to an oldfashioned paradigm that does not take into consideration the changing nature of industrial relations realities. For them, the solution is to incorporate the teachings of the NIR theory in the intellectual corpus of Industrial Relations. Thus, one is faced with two contradictory positions that have the same bases, namely that the field is in a critical condition and that, somehow, a theory is involved (or should be involved) in the picture. However, the discrepancy between the two theses poses important conceptual problems for the future of the field for it is not as yet clear who is to blame (if anyone) for its current situation. It is, therefore, the aim of this Thesis to clarify the above picture. To achieve this, both the above theses will be evaluated. To do so, it is imperative to study the epistemological implications of the NIR theory for the field of Industrial Relations, and then to examine the place the NIR theory occupies in the intellectual structures of the field in Britain. Once this is achieved, the issue of crisis will be tackled in more detail to determine whether British Industrial Relations actually face the crisis that the various voices in the literature ascribe it with. In the Introduction the general problem and the Research Questions of the Thesis will be discussed. Then, the First Chapter will set the theoretical context upon which the analysis will be based. Chapter Two will present the intellectual and institutional development of the field of Industrial Relations, while Chapter Three will be devoted to an analysis of the NIR theory. Chapter Four will examine the epistemic value of the theory for the field of Industrial Relations and Chapter Five will investigate the position that the NIR theory occupies in the British Industrial Relations fora of knowledge development. Chapter Six will complement the above discussion by examining the evolutionary dynamics of the NIR theory. In Chapter Seven the intellectual status of Industrial Relations will be examined to see whether the field faces an intellectual crisis. Then, Chapter Eight will analyse the dynamics of the field in Britain to evaluate the condition of the field’s institutions. Finally, in Chapter Nine, the institutional status of the field, together with some ideas about the field’s future will be further discussed, and some promising avenues for future research will be presented.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2009 Horen Voskeritsian
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group
Supervisor: Hyman, Richard

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