Cross-Cultural Industrial Relations in the Context of Socioeconomic Changes: The West, the East, and the Emerging Markets

By Yang, Nini | Journal of International Business Research, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Cross-Cultural Industrial Relations in the Context of Socioeconomic Changes: The West, the East, and the Emerging Markets


Yang, Nini, Journal of International Business Research


INTRODUCTION

The field of comparative industrial relations seeks to understand, describe, and analyze labor relations systems in different countries. In the face of enhanced global competition, firms are increasingly going international to seek new business opportunities in more cost-efficient ways. This may be achieved through outsourcing or relocation of jobs and capital to overseas operations. Coupled with this trend is the challenge to effectively manage cross-cultural labor relations, particularly between the organized labor and management. While national differences in wages, skills, technology advancement, infrastructures, and proximity to natural resources offer potential comparative advantages to the business organizations, the transfer of competence across borders has to be accomplished through people, including both blue-collar and white-collar employees whether in a unionized or union-free work environment. In any event, international industrial relations present a key strategic issue to both cross-border business managers and local trade unions because the nature of management-labor relationship can greatly impact an organization's workforce stability, public image, productivity, and global competitiveness (Yang, 2008).

The purpose of the present study is to examine some important factors surrounding international industrial relations. It takes a comparative approach to highlight and analyze current trends in unionization and variations in collective bargaining across borders, with special attention to cultural traditions, institutional conditions, and ongoing socioeconomic changes that interact to impact the union density rates and collective bargaining coverage in different economic sectors. The study also offers international data, both quantitative and qualitative, to contrast societal norms about organized labor and emerging shifts in collective bargaining coverage and grassroots tactics, particularly in the emerging labor market such as China. Through this endeavor, multinationals' adaptations in the host-country context and responses from the local trade unions are examined to generate specific implications for the practical field. Based on recent international labor statics and country-firm specific cases, a comparative framework of key factors influencing international industrial relations is formulated to provide suggestions for future research.

SOCIOECONOMIC CHANGES AND UNION DENSITY TRENDS

Historically, trade unions have played a critical role in the early phase of industrialization of many developed countries today to end child labor practices, improve workplace safety, and increase wages and welfare for the workers and the working class families. Recent international labor statistics (e.g., Eurofound, 2004; ILO, 2006; OECD, 2008; USBLS, 2006; ACFTU, 2007), however, indicate that organized labor has been declining in most industrial nations with a few exceptions like in Finland and Sweden. In contrast, trade liberalization and rapid industrialization in some Asian societies have led to the growth of trade unions, such as in Cambodia, Indonesia, South Korea, and China, particularly expanding into the private and foreign owned sectors. By mid 2006, for example, about 30% of foreign companies in China had set up unions, including the world largest retailer Wal-Mart, known for its anti-union stance, and its direct rival the French retailer Carrefour SA. By September 2008, most fortune 500 multinationals doing business in China had allowed unionization. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is aiming at 60%-80% of the foreign companies and Chinese local firms to allow the workforce unionization. The emerging divergence and convergence in unionization trends across borders can be attributed to their differing cultural, economic, political, and legal environments.

Union Density Trends and Variations in Western Industrial Societies

The strength of trade unions are often measured by union density rates, union membership as a proportion of wage and salary earners in the workforce. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Cross-Cultural Industrial Relations in the Context of Socioeconomic Changes: The West, the East, and the Emerging Markets
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.