PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to reconstruct the development of industrial relations (IR) in Germany since the end of the Second World War and discusses the current challenges posed by economic globalisation und European integration.Design/methodology/approachCombining a political economy, identifying Germany as a coordinated market economy (social market economy), and actor-centred historical institutionalism approach, outlining the formation and strategies of the main social actors within a particular institutional setting, the paper draws on the broad range of research on IR in Germany and its theoretical debates, including own research in the field.FindingsThe legacy of the key institutional settings in the post-war era – primarily the social market economy, co-determination at supervisory boards, works councils and sector-based non-ideological unions with their analogously organised employer counterparts, as well as the dual system of interest representation – has shaped the German IR and still underlie the bargaining processes and joint learning processes although trade unions and employers’ associations have been weakened because of loss of membership. In consequence the coverage scope of collective agreements is now somewhat reduced. Despite being declared dead many times, the “German model” of a “conflictual partnership” of capital and labour has survived many turbulent changes affecting it to the core.Originality/valueThe paper presents an original, theoretical informed reconstruction of the German IR and allows an understanding of the current institutional changes and challenges in the light of historical legacies. Additionally the theoretical debates on path dependence and learning processes of collectivities are enriched through its application to the German case.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 4, 2018
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