In This Review

The Workers of Nations: Industrial Relations in a Global Economy
The Workers of Nations: Industrial Relations in a Global Economy
Edited by Sanford M. Jacoby
Oxford University Press, 1995, 231 pp.

Modes of labor organization, the practices of collective bargaining, and legislation regarding the workplace and fringe benefits vary substantially across the rich industrialized democracies. Yet all are increasingly subject to the influences of globalization: competition from other countries in product and capital markets and even through labor migration. These pressures are especially acute within the European Union, where legal barriers to migration among member nations have consciously been eliminated. This volume results from a conference at UCLA on the influence of the changing international environment on organized labor. Its nine chapters are illustrative rather than comprehensive, although the editor provides an excellent introductory overview.

The volume finds that labor is less mobile in European countries than the United States even though fringe benefits such as pensions and health care are more portable in Europe, due largely to national systems. Declining labor power has reduced strike activity in some countries but increased it in others. Introduction of Japanese production teams and other cooperative management techniques have not been widespread in Japanese-owned firms in California; the much-publicized automobile firms turn out to be the exception, not the rule. South Korean growth occurred despite substantial industrial policies in the 1970s rather than because of them; favored industries showed lower productivity increases (despite greater investment) than non-favored ones, a contrast that was even greater in Mexico, where productivity in non-favored industries grew much more rapidly.