The impact of unification on the German model of industrial relations

Upchurch, Martin R. (1999) The impact of unification on the German model of industrial relations. Doctoral thesis, University of North London.


The aim of this thesis is to assess the impact of German Unification on the German Model of industrial relations. Other external pressures are also placing pressure on the model such as increased integration of the world economy, trends towards financial de-regulation and the onset of new production methods. These other pressures are recorded and analysed.

In attempting to achieve the research objective a theoretical overview of institutional adaptation and change is presented, drawing in particular on Marxist analysis of base and superstructure. It is also considered that pressure from below, from organised labour, is a key potential ingredient of institutional change. An analysis of industrial conflicts generation and its containment or otherwise within the institutional framework is, therefore, assessed.

The research methods used are to gather evidence of change and to construct a model of institutional continuity, adaptation, change and breakdown. A short case history of the auto industry and a long case study of the eastern secondary education sector utilising primary data supplement the analysis. Indicators of change are related to the theoretical model to produce conclusions.

The thesis concludes that Unification has exacerbated previously discernible trends to fragment key aspects of the model. However, employers are still likely to benefit from preserving some of the consensus-based features of the model. Consequently the model is undergoing a process of sharp adaptation, which may, in the foreseeable future, not be enough to prevent breakdown.

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