Revitalizing Industrial Relations as an Academic Enterprise
Edited by Charles J. Whalen
Chapter 9: Revitalizing Industrial Relations
Michael J. Piore INTRODUCTION Industrial relations (IR), broadly deﬁned as the study of work and employment, has existed as a ﬁeld of study for over a century. But when we think of the crisis of the ﬁeld, particularly in the context of the professional association now called the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA, formerly the Industrial Relations Research Association), we are really talking about a period, beginning in the 1930s and extending roughly up to 1970 or 1975, when IR was intellectually most active and exciting, attracting the brightest and most dedicated students, enormous public interest and support (especially among policymakers and politicians), and, most importantly, considerable institutional support and dedicated research funding. It is nostalgia for those years that prompts the kind of hand wringing about the future of the ﬁeld in which we are engaged today. I share many of these concerns, but I have reservations as well. Since this will not be an altogether welcome message in this forum, I want to begin by asserting my credentials as a member of the discipline – this is meant to be an insider’s critique. Although I was trained as an economist and my primary academic appointment has always been in an economics department, I think of myself as an IR scholar. My thesis advisor was John T. Dunlop, whose own contribution to the ﬁeld of IR was at least as great as his contribution to economics. I have always been aﬃliated with the Industrial Relations Section at...
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