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Employment relations as a subject refer to kind and condition of affairs and interaction between the employer and the employees. On the other hand, employment relations as a practice or a discipline involve the implementation of management and relational strategies in order to maintain positive and harmonious affairs between the employer and the employee. The expected result of such a constructive relationship includes trust, commitment, and satisfaction that would eventually lead to productivity and work efficiency ascertaining the accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives.
Gennard, Judge, & Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2005)
Thus, due to the advantageous effects of unassailable relationships between the employer and the employees, various organizations from different fields or disciplines strive to establish and maintain positive employment relations. The intentions or motivations of organizations to develop sound and adequate employment relations have led to major shifts and changes on plans, strategies, principle, and so on that define the concept of employment relations.
As discussed by Gennard and Judge, with the support of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the strategies and approaches applied to implement employment relations were “centered on trade union behavior, collective bargaining, industrial disputes and UK government-trade union relationships.
” (2005: 10) However, through time, organizations witnessed changes not only on human perceptions and behaviors toward employment but also on the landscape of the economy, employment policies, etc. Attitudes to work and relationships at work have certainly changed since the late 1970s.
The driving forces for this have been a marked change in the context in which the game of employee relations has played… In this environment, the focus of employee relations has changed.
” (Gennard, Judge, & Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2005: 11) Therefore, the principles that govern the concept of employment relations have also changed.
Employment relations, as a discipline, at present is expected to accomplish specific objectives such as the following: ensuring organizational success, developing trusting and obliging work environment, providing satisfaction to employees, empowering employees by allowing them to practice and observe their rights and duties, and looking after the interests of the organization. (Gennard, Judge, & Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2005: 11)
The further development of employment relations as a means to make it suitable, and therefore effectual and operational, to present employment, economic, and social conditions necessitate the exploration and discovery of employment relations strategies and policies implemented in various settings. Studying conventional or contemporary, orthodox or unorthodox, practices in employment relations is a learning experience that would allow organizations determine the best practices and strategies to implement in specific organizational environments and situations and then determine the future of employment relations based on present conditions.
To meet this objective, perhaps the best strategy is to look into various employment relations strategies and policies implemented internationally and compare them closely. Bamber, Lansbury, and Wailes (2004) also believe that exploring employment relations in the international setting contributes to “knowledge about employment relations in different countries and as a source of models for policy development… it is worth briefly noting that the increased economic interconnectedness associated with globalization has produced a greater need for information about employment relations practices in other countries. (p. 3-4)
For this reason, the remainder of this discussion will look into internationally comparative employment relations with the objective of identifying its significance and determining the challenges and difficulties that come along with it. Contributions of Internationally Comparative Employment Relations As briefly mentioned, the study of internationally comparative employment relations contributes to policy development.
Through time, the landscape of employment, the work and competitive environment, the economy, social policies, etc. all change forcing the need to modify employment relations policies, strategies, or approaches. In France, organizations have implemented varied employment relations strategies and approaches in the workplace through time. After the Second World War, the country was engrossed with the enormous responsibility of restoring economic growth.
However, productivity and work efficiency was stunted due to “The French republican tradition… strong centralizing forces persist which contribute to the difficulties in reforming employment relations. ” (Bach, 1999: 13) Thus, even if the economic situation in France during the 1980s called for a reformation of employment relations in order to improve governance and mobilize the proletariat to boost the economy, the conservative nature of the French republican government hindered its progress.
The massive resistance toward change led to a string of problems in the employment sector. According to Bach (1999), “Public service trade unions have demonstrated an ambivalent attitude toward reform, and this has reignited long-standing rivalries between the differing confederations… Trade unions have aired their members’ frustration about inflexible pay and conditions… Successive governments, many of which have been short-lived coalitions… have been wary of antagonizing trade unions. (14)
The resolution of the problems faced by France due to the nation’s inability to embrace changes and transformations in the employment sector calls for an understanding of the significance of the study of internationally comparative employment relations. It seems that France has a lot to learn from Denmark. Apparently, modernization and the aims toward progress and development have led Denmark to adapt to contemporary employment relations strategies and approaches.
These strategies and approaches involve the restructuring of organizations by decentralizing administrations and management divisions. The result, according to Bach (1999): “Changes in the form and character of industrial relations have been modest, with the development of an elaborate system of co-ordinated coalition bargaining. It is the emphasis on consensus, with formal and informal systems of corporatism, in which the trade unions remain crucial and influential actors, which accounts for this pattern of public sector reform. (14)
Lessons from France and Denmark prove that the study of internationally comparative employment relations leads not only to the identification of similarities and differences, but also to the exploration of various employment relations strategies and approaches being implemented in different countries. Learning the successes and failures of such employment relations strategies and approaches helps in the decision-making process within organizations in terms of the development of employment policies to improve working conditions.
This assumption is primarily due to the principle that “comparison requires the abstraction of concepts from particular contexts” (Bamber, Lansbury, & Wailes, 2004: 4), and consequently the integration of suitable and adequate concepts to similar contexts to obtain the best results. Another reason that justifies the importance of studying internationally comparative employment relations is the necessity of reviewing the matter through a wider scope or perspective. A comprehensive look on employment relations leads to a full understanding of what it is all about and what it entails.
Many failures and challenges in employment relations arise from an organization’s misconceptions on employment relations and shortcomings on how it is implemented. As Bamber, Lansbury, and Wailes (2004: 4) argued, conducting a comparative analysis on employment relations practices and concepts in various international settings “offers for theoretical development in the field of employment relations and the particular contribution that comparative analysis can make in advancing our understanding of the impact of globalisation on national patterns of employment relations. In this manner, a comprehensive exploration of employment relations in different nations results to a deeper understanding of how it is to be transformed and implemented specifically because of the impacts, challenges, difficulties, advantages, etc. brought about by globalization. Ultimately, studying internationally comparative employment relations allows one to look at it as part of the bigger picture and not merely as the primary issue itself.
Through a multinational perspective of employment relations, organizations will be able to consider every single aspect that it covers, including the factors that affect it, the several concepts or principles that might help improve it, and the identification of processes by which the advantages and contributions of employment relations might be expanded to cover the other problems and difficulties that organizations and employees face in the process. Therefore, studying internationally comparative employment relations cover the understanding, development, and expansion of the principles that govern it.
The evaluation or assessment of employment relations policies, strategies, or approaches is a valuable aspect in its improvement. However, efficient and reliable evaluation requires the establishment of high quality and adequate standards or guidelines by which the process is to be based on. Studying internationally comparative employment relations will allow organizations to determine superior standards that would incite changes in employment relations policies for improvement.
Bamber, Lansbury, and Wailes (2004) said, “Such an approach can be a useful way of verifying hypotheses or of producing generalisations derived from research findings from national contexts. ” (4)
Difficulties of Engaging in Internationally Comparative Employment Relations Just as the study of internationally comparative employment relations offer benefits and contributions to employment relations policy development, widening and expansion of its scope, and its efficient and reliable evaluation, it also bears challenges and difficulties that rule out the importance of exploring employment relations on a multinational perspective.
One of the reasons why this academic enterprise is not recommended is because of the large gaps between the landscapes of economy, employment, and society in different nations or regions. For instance, the expansion of industrialization in East Asia subjugates the development of trade unions while the dominance of trade unions in Africa is the primary reason why nations in these regions find it difficult to develop and implement new employment policies and approaches. (Eaton, 2000) The United States alone defines its employment relations policies and approaches distinct from what other nations implement.
According to Hogler (2003), “The distinction between the labor relations system in the United States and its global competitors is sometimes described by the term American exceptionalism, which emphasizes the fact that U. S. workers do not make up a coherent group united by class sentiment and common goals. ” (4)
According to Locke, Kochan, and Piore (1995), “The key features of the traditional IR/HR system have their origins in the rise of mass production and the matrix of American institutions and legal traditions that constrained the choices of capital and labor in shaping human resources practices. (1)
The research studies of Bach (1999) also reveal that the proximity within the nations in Europe and the similar culture, experiences, etc. that the people in the region had to go through make employment relations policies and approaches distinct from other nations or regions. For instance, governments in Europe “remain directly or indirectly the employers of public service workers… and control of the public sector paybill is central to effective economic policy. ” (Bach, 1999: 1)
Considering the idea that “Comparative analysis between countries requires that similar phenomena should be examined in each country” (Bach, 1999: 4), the distinct features and landscapes of each nation makes it difficult to obtain consistent results or information. As Bach (1999) strongly argued, “National governments continue to shape their approach to the public services within a particular national configuration of political, economic and legal institutions…. Convergence between countries remains a distant prospect. (13) Nivola (1997) also said that even we consider the concept of globalization as a means to justify the necessity of studying internationally comparative employment relations and take note of this academic enterprise’ benefits and advantages, the distinctiveness of each nation will still regulate or limit how new found or learned employment relations principles are to be integrated into their national structure. This renders the study of comparative employment relations useless.
Conclusion Based on the readings on employment relations and how it relates to the international setting, we should realize the precariousness of engaging in a study that explores how employment relations policies and approaches compare among various nations. Clearly, we have established that this academic enterprise brings forth certain advantages and contributions, most importantly to the development of policies and the improvement of employment conditions. Read about arriott employee satisfaction
However, it also poses dangers on how information is to be used or applied because of diversity that makes newfound theories or principles irrelevant to some countries. For these reasons, we should also realize the need to compartmentalize the study of internationally comparative employment relations and to use results or findings judiciously varying with the economic, employment, and social context or landscape in different nations.
First, there should be guidelines set that determines which nations should be compared based on its correspondence to the goals or objectives of the study. Second, the study of internationally comparative employment relations should be constantly evaluated in order to ensure that in the end, it would not become unproductive and useless for policy development and the improvement of employment relations.
Third, the application of the results or outcomes of this academic enterprise should meet the specifications of each nation, keeping in mind that the policies, guidelines, principles, and theories made to enhance employment relations match the needs and demands of a particular country. I believe that customizing and compartmentalizing how this academic enterprise is handled and carried out will greatly help in assuaging the difficulties and challenges that this academic enterprise poses.
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