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Industrial Relations in Europe in the 1990s New Business Strategies and the Challenge to Organised Labour

Industrial Relations in Europe in the 1990s New Business Strategies and the Challenge to... 24 Management Research News Volume 14 Number 10 1991 years of constructive effort to build up the institutions to Industrial Relations in Europe in the run the European welfare system will have gone to waste. 1990s: New Business Strategies Analysis and discussion of these changes can be and the Challenge to Organised undertaken through observing the developments of trade Labour unions, collective bargaining, manpower flexibility, profit- sharing systems, etc. Bruno Amoroso, University of Roskilde, Denmark The forecasting of developments in European business strategies in the 1990s must begin with an analysis of the major structural changes which have taken place in the industrialised countries' economies during the last de­ cade. The globalisation of the world economy and the de­ velopment of new technologies have been conducive to the establishment of meso-economies in production, and the americanisation of patterns of consumption and cul­ ture. The studies carried out during the 1980s have paid particularly close attention to the consequences of the so­ cial and economic crisis and to the wave of liberalisation and deregulation. In many cases this has undoubtedly led to the identification of new and emerging phenomena, but their interpretation through the 'old' analytical frame­ works of "crisis" and "national state" is totally misleading. The increasing decentralisation of production and the re­ cently introduced criteria for flexible employment and la­ bour organisation, have produced a number of "new paradigms", which, on closer inspection, seem to be little more than extrapolations of the previous ones. "Flexible specialisation", "post-Fordism", and the "new institution- alism", are examples of this kind of contribution. The changes that are taking place in the system of industrial relations are induced by the new strategies of business, the aim being to bring about a destabilisation of the existing state-of-affairs. This is hardly likely to re­ vive a Utopian pluralism and 'free' market conditions that never really existed in point of fact. The purpose is rather to create new capitalist market formations and new pro­ duction systems. The impact of the business strategy can best be ana­ lysed today at the level of the firm since the national sys­ tem of industrial relations is in a state of collapse. All the talk about a European system is just one element of the extrapolations mentioned above - that is to say nothing but wishful thinking. The new feature in the situation is the ending of the relative autonomy of the system of industrial relations and its incorporation into the productive system. At the pres­ ent stage of development, it appears that the strategy of business is to absorb the system into a new "firm culture", thereby making the firm the centre of the whole system - socially, politically, and economically. In this way, 50 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Management Research News Emerald Publishing

Industrial Relations in Europe in the 1990s New Business Strategies and the Challenge to Organised Labour

Management Research News , Volume 14 (10): 1 – Oct 1, 1991

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0140-9174
DOI
10.1108/eb028178
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

24 Management Research News Volume 14 Number 10 1991 years of constructive effort to build up the institutions to Industrial Relations in Europe in the run the European welfare system will have gone to waste. 1990s: New Business Strategies Analysis and discussion of these changes can be and the Challenge to Organised undertaken through observing the developments of trade Labour unions, collective bargaining, manpower flexibility, profit- sharing systems, etc. Bruno Amoroso, University of Roskilde, Denmark The forecasting of developments in European business strategies in the 1990s must begin with an analysis of the major structural changes which have taken place in the industrialised countries' economies during the last de­ cade. The globalisation of the world economy and the de­ velopment of new technologies have been conducive to the establishment of meso-economies in production, and the americanisation of patterns of consumption and cul­ ture. The studies carried out during the 1980s have paid particularly close attention to the consequences of the so­ cial and economic crisis and to the wave of liberalisation and deregulation. In many cases this has undoubtedly led to the identification of new and emerging phenomena, but their interpretation through the 'old' analytical frame­ works of "crisis" and "national state" is totally misleading. The increasing decentralisation of production and the re­ cently introduced criteria for flexible employment and la­ bour organisation, have produced a number of "new paradigms", which, on closer inspection, seem to be little more than extrapolations of the previous ones. "Flexible specialisation", "post-Fordism", and the "new institution- alism", are examples of this kind of contribution. The changes that are taking place in the system of industrial relations are induced by the new strategies of business, the aim being to bring about a destabilisation of the existing state-of-affairs. This is hardly likely to re­ vive a Utopian pluralism and 'free' market conditions that never really existed in point of fact. The purpose is rather to create new capitalist market formations and new pro­ duction systems. The impact of the business strategy can best be ana­ lysed today at the level of the firm since the national sys­ tem of industrial relations is in a state of collapse. All the talk about a European system is just one element of the extrapolations mentioned above - that is to say nothing but wishful thinking. The new feature in the situation is the ending of the relative autonomy of the system of industrial relations and its incorporation into the productive system. At the pres­ ent stage of development, it appears that the strategy of business is to absorb the system into a new "firm culture", thereby making the firm the centre of the whole system - socially, politically, and economically. In this way, 50

Journal

Management Research NewsEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 1, 1991

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