The Maximisation of Control in Industrial Relations Systems

  • Robin Smith


The primary purpose of this book is to argue that control over work is the central issue in industrial relations. To understand the latter it is necessary to determine what control comprises: how it can be achieved; and what the consequences of achieving it are. But taken at face value ‘control’ is highly perjorative: its connotation in ordinary usage is the possession of authority, the utterance of commands and the operation of restrictions or sanctions to ensure compliance with those commands. As such, in the context of British industrial relations especially, it may appear to have a somewhat authoritarian ring about it. Much existing analysis of industrial relations in Britain and North America has focused on the system of collective bargaining as the proper object of study, on the reasonable grounds that in these societies it is by far the most widespread method of regulating relations between employers and employees. At the level of the enterprise that engages with trade unions to bargain collectively about the allocation of scarce organisational resources, this focus has frequently provided penetrating insights into the behaviour and functioning of the various parties concerned. Yet there are three major limitations of the collective bargaining approach.


Trade Union Collective Bargaining Industrial Relation Union Membership Joint Regulation 
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© Robin Smith 1979

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  • Robin Smith

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