PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to reconstruct the development of industrial relations (IR) in Spain since the democratic transition and analyses the current dilemmas of its social and political actors in the context of the long-lasting economic downturn.Design/methodology/approachCombining a political economy, identifying Spain as a particular variety of modern capitalism, and actor-centred historical institutionalism approach, outlining the formation and strategies of the main social actors, the paper draws on the broad range of research on IR in Spain and its theoretical debates, including proper research in the field.FindingsThe legacies of the latecomer industrialisation and the semi-peripheral development model still shape the Spanish economy and IR. The impact of the current economic and political-institutional crisis affects the entire institutional IR system and its actors shifting power towards the individual employer thus weakening trade unions, labour rights and collective bargaining. Regarding the theoretical debate on corporatism, the Spanish case provides ambiguous results. The lack of a coherent institutional system and efficient political administration limits the effectiveness of corporatist arrangements and reduces them to contingent concertation strategies. Spain confirms that IR still largely depend on the specific national variety of capitalism that condition economic development and resources for political exchange.Originality/valueThe paper presents an original, theoretical-informed reconstruction of the Spanish IR and allows an understanding of the current institutional transformations and strategic dilemmas in the light of historical legacies. Additionally, the theoretical debates on neo-corporatism and semi-peripheral development are enriched through its application to the Spanish case.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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