Table of Contents

Research Handbook on the Future of Work and Employment Relations

Research Handbook on the Future of Work and Employment Relations

Elgar original reference

Edited by Keith Townsend and Adrian Wilkinson

The broad field of employment relations is diverse and complex and is under constant development and reinvention. This Research Handbook discusses fundamental theories and approaches to work and employment relations, and their connection to broader political and societal changes occurring throughout the world. It provides comprehensive coverage of work and employment relations theory and practice.

Chapter 6: Concerted Capital: Understanding Employer Interests and the Role of Employer Coordination in Contemporary Employment Relations

Michael Barry

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Michael Barry INTRODUCTION It is generally accepted that employer interests have been behind the various changes that have fundamentally recast employment relations in recent times. It is also accepted that employers exercise strategic choice in relation to how they manage employment relations within the workplace and how they respond to other actors within their regulatory environment (Kochan et al., 1986). Employers are seen to have become more strategic in mobilizing their interests in response to increased market competition and economic uncertainty by taking steps to reclaim managerial prerogative and to enhance various forms of labour flexibility. Thus, paradoxically, the political influence of business has been countercyclical in that it increased during the period of economic uncertainty following the OPEC oil shocks after waning during the period of economic prosperity from the 1960s to the early 1970s (Vogel, 1989). Employer ascendancy has been at one level about successfully challenging the post-World War II orthodoxy of employment relations collectivism. The election of ‘new right’ governments, first in the United States and United Kingdom under Reagan and Thatcher, allowed employer interests to become more prominent in public policy, and employers used this political opportunity to bring about changes to regulatory structures and bargaining instruments. State interventions have given employers a new regulatory framework and a set of regulatory tools to decentralize employment relations, to promote individualization, and to contest the ‘frontier of control’ against workers and their representatives. As Streeck (1987) argued, in uncertain and competitive economic circumstances, employers have sought to scale...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information