Evaluating Industrial Relations Systems of OECD Countries from 1993 to 2005: A Two‐Dimensional Approach

AuthorYoon‐Ho Kim,Paula Voos,Hiromasa Suzuki,Dong‐One Kim,Young Doo Kim
Publication Date01 Dec 2015
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12092
Evaluating Industrial Relations Systems
of OECD Countries from 1993 to 2005:
A Two-Dimensional Approach
Dong-One Kim, Yoon-Ho Kim, Paula Voos,
Hiromasa Suzuki and Young Doo Kim
Abstract
This article uses both cross-sectional and longitudinal methods to evaluate the
national industrial relations systems of 30 Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries from 1993 to 2005. We
adopt a pluralistic view of industrial relations that gives equal weight to effi-
ciency and equity, along with a general systems model consisting of input,
process and output. We rank each country in terms of a combined score of
efficiency and equity. We find that the 30 OECD countries can be separated into
three distinct groups (high on both equity and efficiency; high on efficiency but
low on equity; moderate on equity and low on efficiency), and that these groups
exhibit considerable stability over time.
1. Introduction
As economic globalization has accelerated and the need for social regulation
has escalated, progress has been made in collecting and adding the economic
and social indexes of different nations to international databases. Various
international organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organi-
zation (ILO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the International
Institute for Management Development (IMD) have undertaken this work.
Scholars, too, have classified, measured and analysed the industrial relations
of countries. Their activities have been prompted at times by various theo-
retical debates, such as the one over corporatism. Hence, in recent years,
Dong-One Kim and Young Doo Kim are at Korea University. Yoon-Ho Kim is at the Korea
University of Technology and Education. Paula Voos is at Rutgers University. Hiromasa Suzuki
is at Waseda University.
British Journal of Industrial Relations doi: 10.1111/bjir.12092
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/London School of Economics. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
53:4 D ecemb er 2015 0007–1080 pp. 645 –663
British Journal of Industrial Relations
there has been an accumulation of comparative statistics on industrial rela-
tions collected from a variety of nations.
However, most studies deal with only partial aspects of national industrial
relations systems, such as union centralization or collective bargaining cen-
tralization (Aidt and Tzannatos 2008; Golden et al. 2006; Kenworthy 2000,
2001; Kuruvilla et al. 2002; OECD 1994, 2004), corporatism or social dia-
logue (Kenworthy and Kittel 2003; Traxler 1994; Traxler et al. 2001), or the
quality in work or decent work (Bescond et al. 2003; Bonnet et al. 2003;
Davoine et al. 2008; Ghai 2003; Weiler 2004). Few studies have addressed
national industrial relations systems as a whole. The research undertaken
here is intended as a first step towards filling this vacuum in the literature.
The purpose of the present study is to develop, based upon the two dimen-
sions of efficiency and equity, a standard for the evaluation of national
industrial relations systems. This research has two goals. The first is to help
scholars make more valid classifications of national industrial relations
systems by providing an evaluation model based upon well-accepted theo-
retical elements; the second is to assist in the pursuit of equity, efficiency and
balanced growth in each country’s industrial relations. The present study
uses both cross-sectional and longitudinal methods to evaluate national
industrial relations systems in 30 OECD countries during the 13 years from
1993 to 2005.
2. Conceptual framework
In evaluating national industrial relations systems, we adopt the pluralistic
view of industrial relations that recognizes equally the goals of employers (i.e.
primarily efficiency) and of employees (i.e. primarily equity). We also adopt
a general systems model consisting of input, process and output.
Goals of Industrial Relations: Efficiency and Equity
Efficiency and equity have been widely recognized as two ultimate goals of
industrial relations (Barbash 1984; Budd 2004; Fox 1974; Meltz 1989). Effi-
ciency can be defined using both minimum and maximum principles. Effi-
ciency involves producing a maximum number of products and services with
a minimum number of inputs. Because the wants of humans are infinite but
the resources to satisfy these wants are limited, an important duty of man-
agement is to make continuous progress towards greater efficiency in pro-
duction and thereby enhance profitability, if the enterprise is privately
owned. Increased international competition because of globalization has
made efficiency particularly important in so far as inefficient organizations
are more likely to fail. Hence, both employees and unions are also concerned
with maintaining business efficiency.
Second is the issue of equity. In industrial relations, equity can be said to
involve labour standards that promote human dignity and freedom. For
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/London School of Economics.
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