IRL 420-Comparative Industrial Relations Systems I Cliff Donn
Fall 2005 Office RH-228, Ext.4339



The basic focus of the course is on alternative approaches to the structuring of labor-management relations in the developed nations bordering the North Atlantic. The emphasis will be on the similarities and differences between the overseas systems and the United States' system. There will also be some discussion o f the industrial relations implications of the growing economic interdependence among nations.


The basic text for this course is International and Comparative Employment Relations, 4th ed., by Greg J. Bamber, Russell D. Lansbury and Nick Wailes (BLW). However, readings from that volume constitute only a fraction of the total reading required for the course. Other readings are on reserve at the library. In preparing papers you may find it necessary to consult off-campus libraries (Syracuse or Cornell). The International Labour Review is the basic journal in this field. Other English language journals which are useful but most of which our library does not receive include the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Relations Industrielles (Canada), Economic and Industrial Democracy, and Industrial Relations Journal (Britain).  A "non-academic" practitioner type journal which contains lots of brief articles and up-to-date reports which you will find useful is the European Industrial Relations Review.


All students will take a comprehensive final examination on December 14. Traditionally, students were also required to write two term papers and there was an optional mid-term examination. The requirements may be the same this semester. However, the class will be consulted during the first few days and there may be changes in those course requirements to reflect the preferences of the class.

If you have a documented disability and you wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact the instructor within the first week of class.
Term Paper I Outline  
Term Paper I  
Mid-term Examination October 17
Term Paper II Outline  
Term Paper II  
Final Examination December 14 (3:00 P.M.)



(* before a topic means it will not be covered in class)
I. Introduction  
--A. Course Introduction Aug.29, 31, Sep. 2
--B. Approaches to Comparative Studies Sep.7, 9, 12
II. Country Studies  
--A. Bargaining North of the Border: The Case of Canada Sep.14, 16, 19, 21, 23
--B. Decentralized Bargaining: The Case of Britain Sep.26, 28, 30 ,Oct. 3, 5, 7, 12
--C. Centralized Bargaining: The Case of Sweden Oct.19, 21, 24, 26
--D. Bargaining in an Ideologically Divided Context: The Case of France Oct. 28, 31, Nov. 2, 4
--E. Bargaining in an Ideologically Divided Context: The Case of Italy Nov. 7, 9, 11, 14
--F. Workers' Participation in the Capitalist State: The Case of Germany Nov. 16, 18, 21, 28
--*G. From Repression to Freedom: The Case of Spain  
--*H. Bargaining with Linguistic Divisions: The Case of Belgium
--*I. Bargaining in an Incomes Policy Context: The Case of the Netherlands  
--*J. Bargaining on an Island: The Case of Ireland
III. Transnational Industrial-Relations Issues:  
--A. Economic Interdependence and Industrial Relations Nov. 30
--B. Bargaining Across Borders: The Response to Multinational Corporations Dec.2, 5
IV. Conclusions Dec. 7
Review Dec. 9




I expect that you will come to class each day on time, having done the reading assignment and prepared to participate by asking and answering questions and by expressing your opinions. I expect that you will ask questions about anything you don't understand. I expect that essays will be done and turned in on time and that they will reflect the best work you can do. I expect that you will contact me if you are having any problems in the course or if you are having personal problems which may affect your performance in the course. Overall, I expect you to work hard at getting the most out of this course that you possibly can.


You can expect that I shall come to class on time each day having thought about and prepared the material. You can expect that I shall answer your questions to the best of my ability and that your opinions will be heard with respect. You can expect that your papers and exams will be graded carefully and returned in a timely manner and that you will be given an explanation of why you receive the grades you receive. You can expect that I shall make time to see you if you need to see me and that I shall keep regular office hours.


A serious commitment to learning and a serious effort toward that end.


At the completion of this class, the successful student will be familiar with industrial-relations arrangements in six different economically developed nations and will be able to compare and contrast those arrangements with each other and with those in the United States.  The student will also have an appreciation of the alternative models that can be used to analyze international industrial-relations arrangements and will be able to use those models to discuss arrangements in different countries critically.  The student will be aware of issues related to growing international economic interdependence and will be familiar with sources of data and other information about industrial relations overseas and will be able to access that information.


I. B. Approaches to Comparative Studies
Optional: II. A. Canada


B. Britain


C. Sweden


D. France


E. Italy


F. Germany


*G. Spain

*H. Belgium

*I. Netherlands

*J. Ireland

III. A. Economic Interdependence and Industrial Relations

B. Bargaining Across Borders: The Response to Multi-National Corporations


IV. Conclusions