Employment Relations Research: A Summary and Appraisal

Employment Relations Research: A Summary and Appraisal

Employment Relations Research: A Summary and Appraisal

Employment Relations Research: A Summary and Appraisal

Excerpt

Research in industrial relations is concerned with all the wide range of problems arising out of employment. Its importance as a special and distinct field for study and research is now clearly recognized. This problem area is somewhat distinctive, however, because of the superiority and fruitfulness of an interdisciplinary approach to and study of these problems, in contrast to the insight to be gained through the viewpoint of a single discipline.

In earlier years, the predominant approach to the industrial relations field was the descriptive and institutional "labor problems" text, organized around welfare concepts, scattered government statistics, and a wide range of problems. Many of the armchair explanations of working behavior developed in this period of the speculative approach have since proved singularly unrealistic.

Research interest and activity were increased during the 1930's and 1940's. The wartime economy changed emphasis in employment problems from apparent manpower surplus to manpower scarcity. Following World War II, the trend toward increased research has continued. Approaches have been varied and eclectic. The need for additive objective studies has been more widely accepted. Interest has increased in local and segmental studies in contrast to aggregative or macro-philosophical studies. A new emphasis on group organization for research has gained wide support while at the same time many more individual scholars have found this field attractive.

In terms of sheer volume, a first glance at the growing literature of the field would suggest that tremendous strides have been made in advancing knowledge and understanding of industrial relations. A more penetrating look, however, raises some questions. First, the bulk of this literature consists of documents with a plethora of hypotheses and speculations, and a notable shortage of facts and measurements. Second, some areas of employment problems have received much attention and others but little. Third, within each area of study, variations in research design may be noted with respect to . . .

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