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Industrial Relations in a New Age: Economic, Social, and Managerial Perspectives.

Industrial Relations in a New Age: Economic, Social, and Managerial Perspectives. Edited by Clark Kerr and Paul D. Staudohar. San Francisco, CA, Jossey--Bass, Inc., Publishers, 1986. 417 pp. $29.95.

The companion volume, Industrial Relations in a New Age, has a similar format and is just as successful in its coverage of this more modern field. It should be pointed out that this volume is not restricted to the nuts and bolts of collective bargaining. Rather, it focuses on the different perspectives of industrial relations and extends to the historical, philosophical, political, and sociological elements which go into the practice of industrial relations.

The collection begins by leading us from the basic matter dealt with in the first volume, to the newer area of industrial relations, with a historical overview of the meaning of work, beginning with Marx and Engels and carefully tracing the contributions of the sociologists. This is followed by an analysis of changes taking place in the work force.

Before embarking on the discussion of collective bargaining, the editors present the insights of a variety of experts on job satisfaction and dissatisfaction; quality of worklife; the various forms of workers' participation in management; and the public policies which establish the rules of the game.

The three chapters on collective bargaining, industrial conflict, and labor poltical action are among the best in these volumes. However, placing them between two separate chapters on comparative industrial relations systems may confuse the reader, especially because Great Britain, Japan, and West Germany are each covered in both comparative treatments.

The final two chapters present the entire range of opinion on the forces determining industrial societies in general as well as the essential nature of our own industrial relations system. The latter contains Kerr's analysis of the various forms of "convergence" which can be envisaged for future industrial societies. Each will determine its own industrial relations system, says Kerr, introducing the reader to his thoughtful closing contribution to this excellent compendium. Then, after describing the contrasting ideological goals of East and West, he points to forces for convergence and diversity in these goals. He concludes: . . . that the forces for convergence generally tend to become stronger and . . . those for continuing diversity become weaker. . . . But there is no prospective solution to the conflict of irreconcilable sets of goals, each with its strong adherents. This, in my opinion, is the greatest barrier to full convergence. . . . Additionally, full convergence is greatly impeded by the ability of elites to perpetuate themselves and to continue in power.

A fitting close to a set of volumes designed to give readers the whole gamut of views on complex matters and to motivate them to thoughtful analysis before reaching firm conclusions.

--MORRIS WEISZ International Labor Specialist Bethesda, MD
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Author:Weisz, Morris
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1988
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