Revitalizing Industrial Relations as an Academic Enterprise
Edited by Charles J. Whalen
Chapter 3: A Meta-paradigm for Revitalizing Industrial Relations
John W. Budd INTRODUCTION The decline of the academic ﬁeld of industrial relations (IR) has been well chronicled (Kaufman, 1993, 2004). This decline is the product of myriad factors, including issues relating to academic scholarship inside and outside of IR, university enrollments and administrative structures, national political climates, and the weakening of labor unions. Revitalizing IR as an academic enterprise is therefore a complex task, and I will focus only on one piece of the puzzle: a revitalized vision for the ﬁeld of IR that charts a new course between two extremes that have contributed to the ﬁeld’s decline. An earlier generation of IR scholars emphasized the need for a single, integrative theory to successfully deﬁne the ﬁeld. This drive for a single theory pushed out alternative theoretical perspectives. And when a grand theory failed to materialize, subsequent scholarship became excessively focused on the operation of IR processes and largely devoid of explicit theoretical discussions (Budd, 2004). A middle course can help revitalize IR. First, the ﬁeld does not need a single, overarching theory, but it does need a common vision of its core subject, a unifying symbol (Adams, 1993), or an axis of cohesion (Abbott, 2001). IR should not be deﬁned by a paradigm, but by a meta-paradigm – an organizing map that deﬁnes the ﬁeld’s parameters (Masterman, 1970; Ritzer, 1980). This broader vision paves the way for a return to the inclusive approach of the ﬁeld’s early decades nearly 100 years ago in which multiple theoretical...
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