Collective bargaining as industrial democracy: Hugh Clegg and the political foundations of British Industrial Relations pluralism

2006-05-30T16:56:18Z (GMT) by Peter Ackers
Sometime during the summer of 1949 Hugh Clegg first met Allan Flanders, who had arrived at Oxford to take up the post of Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations (IR) from the start of the Michaelmas term. For the next twenty years, their partnership shaped the development of a peculiarly English IR paradigm. Flanders and Clegg were the nucleus of the early post-war ‘Oxford School’ of IR, the authors of the 1954 foundation text that defined the modern field and the intellectual architects of the 1968 Donovan Commission that shaped future policy debate. Arguably, British IR has only just begun to shake-off this theoretical legacy, as voluntary joint regulation or collective bargaining has palpably ceased to be the focus of the employment relationship and the policy emphasis has shifted to legal regulations and Human Resource Management (see Edwards 2003). As IR struggles to redefine itself for a very different society, it is worth revisiting the intellectual founders of the old dispensation, to understand better what factors shaped their conception of the new discipline.