Industrial relations: Wikis

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The field of industrial relations (also called labour relations) looks at the relationship between management and workers, particularly groups of workers represented by a union.

Labour relations is an important factor in analyzing "varieties of capitalism", such as neocorporatism (or corporatism), social democracy, and neoliberalism (or liberalism).

Labour relations can take place on many levels, such as the "shop-floor", the regional level, and the national level. The distribution of power amongst these levels can greatly shape the way an economy functions.

Another key question when considering systems of labour relations is their ability to adapt to change. This change can be technological (e.g., "What do we do when an industry employing half the population becomes obsolete?"), economic (e.g., "How do we respond to globalization?"), or political (e.g., "How dependent is the system on a certain party or coalition holding power?").

Governments set the framework for labor relations through legislation and regulation.

In Australia industrial relations is the commonly used term, though in recent years the term workplace relations has also become common. This was a prominent issue in the defeat of the centre-right Howard Liberal government at the 2007 federal election, who with a Senate majority had introduced the WorkChoices policy.

The academic discipline of labor studies is closely related to and often studied and taught in conjunction with the study industrial and labor relations in english language universities.

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Theoretical perspectives

Industrial relations scholars have described three major theoretical perspectives or frameworks, that contrast in their understanding and analysis of workplace relations. The three views are generally known as unitarism, pluralist and radical. Each offers a particular perception of workplace relations and will therefore interpret such events as workplace conflict, the role of unions and job regulation vary differently. The radical perspective is sometimes referred to as the "conflict model", although this is somewhat ambiguous, as pluralism also tends to see conflict as inherent in workplaces. Radical theories are strongly identified with Marxist theories, although they are not limited to these.

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Unitarist perspective

In unitarianism, the organization is perceived as an integrated and harmonious whole with the ideal of "one happy family", where management and other members of the staff all share a common purpose, emphasizing mutual cooperation. Furthermore, unitarism has a paternalistic approach where it demands loyalty of all employees, being predominantly managerial in its emphasis and application.

Consequently, trade unions are deemed as unnecessary since the loyalty between employees and organizations are considered mutually exclusive, where there can't be two sides of industry. Conflict is perceived as disruptive and the pathological result of agitators, interpersonal friction and communication breakdown.

Pluralist perspective

In pluralism the organization is perceived as being made up of powerful and divergent sub-groups, each with its own legitimate loyalties and with their own set of objectives and leaders. In particular, the two predominant sub-groups in the pluralistic perspective are the management and trade unions.

Consequently, the role of management would lean less towards enforcing and controlling and more toward persuasion and co-ordination. Trade unions are deemed as legitimate representatives of employees, conflict is dealt by collective bargaining and is viewed not necessarily as a bad thing and, if managed, could in fact be channeled towards evolution and positive change.

Radical perspective

This view of industrial relations looks at the nature of the capitalist society, where there is a fundamental division of interest between capital and labour, and sees workplace relations against this history. This perspective sees inequalities of power and economic wealth as having their roots in the nature of the capitalist economic system. Conflict is therefore seen as inevitable and trade unions are a natural response of workers to their exploitation by capital. Whilst there may be periods of acquiescence, the Marxist view would be that institutions of joint regulation would enhance rather than limit management's position as they presume the continuation of capitalism rather than challenge it.


Simple English

The field of industrial relations (also called labor relations) looks at the relationship between management and workers, mostly groups of workers shown by a union.



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