PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to propose a general micro-theoretical framework that helps to understand the embeddedness of trade unions within the European system of industrial relations, and the consequences of this embeddedness for industrial relations outcomes. First, starting from the paradoxical observation of a trend towards homogeneity within a complex, multi-layered European industrial relations system consisting of heterogeneous and autonomous agents, the paper aims to explicate the mechanisms which produce these similarities. Second, the paper seeks to analyse potential mechanisms for transnational trade union cooperation and, third, it concludes by outlining its applicability as the basis for methodological approaches which enable realistic and policy relevant analyses.Design/methodology/approachThis paper is conceptual and focusses on the development of a general micro-theoretical framework which captures European industrial relations actors’ behaviour and outcomes. It integrates theoretical and empirical accounts from differing social science disciplines and from various methodological starting points on trade union action and interaction into one general micro-theoretical framework.FindingsStarting from a typology of trade union goals, the authors show how various social mechanisms lead to interdependencies between trade unions and review empirical evidence for their consequences. The authors, then, identify a set of motives for transnational cooperation that would allow outcomes that are in line with trade union objectives.Originality/valueAgainst the background that previous studies on trade union action and cross-national interaction have paid less attention to the puzzling stylised fact that industrial relations outcomes are mimicked by heterogeneous and autonomous agents actors in different countries, the authors address this research gap by developing a novel general micro-theoretical framework for the analysis of transnational trade union action and interaction in order to better understand the underlying causal mechanisms for the common behaviour and outcomes of autonomous actors.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 3, 2018
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