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Assignment Questions

Changes and Consistencies in Employee Relations in Certain Nations

Learning outcomes of this report are following:

1. Describe and analyse the roles and responses of key actors
2. Identify recent changes in employee relations in a selected country
3. Analyse the role of key factors in driving these changes
4. The appropriate use of academic sources, clearly explained and accurately referenced.

The assessment criteria for this module are following:

1. Recognise the roles and responsibilities of key actors in employee relations
2. Critically evaluate recent changes in employee relations
3. Identify the reasons for changes in employee relations provision
4. Critically analyse a specific form of employee relations provision
5. Use appropriate academic sources to evaluate an academic debate

Course books

There in no one set textbook but the following are relevant.

Dundon, T and Rollinson, D (2011) Understanding Employment Relations 2nd edition McGraw- Hill

Blyton, P. and Turnbull, P. (2004) The Dynamics of Employee Relations Macmillan 3rd edition.

Hollinshead, G. Nicholls, P and Tailby S (eds) (2003) Employee Relations 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall.

Burchill, F. (2008) Labour Relations 3rd Edition. Palgrave Macmillan

Williams, S. and Adam-Smith, D. (2006) Contemporary employee Relations ; A critical introduction. Oxford University Press.

Kersley, B. et al. (2006) Inside the Workplace: Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. Routledge

Daniels, K. (2006) Employee Relations in an Organisational Context CIPD

Gennard, J and Judge, G. (2005) Employee Relations CIPD

Bamber, G. et al (2010) International and Comparative Industrial Relations. Sage ??”

Colling, T and Terry M (eds) (2010) Industrial Relations Theory and Practice 3rd edition.

Dibben et al (2011) Employment Relations: a Critical and International Approach CIPD

The following books take a more sociological approach ??” they are interesting.

Bradley, H. et al (2000) Myths at Work, Polity Press.

Noon, M and Blyton, P. (2007) The Realities of work, 2nd Edition, Palgrave. (more basic).

You can also get a plethora of information on the ‘web’, but be warned, this is of variable quality. Some useful sites include: –

1. Most trade unions have websites.
2. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has an employment relations site: –

3. Specialist topic areas/research centres/pressure groups e.g. involvement and partnership association at: –
• http://www.ipa-involve.com
and the work foundation
• http://www.theworkfoundation.com/

4 Funded projects such as the ESRC ‘Future of Working Life’ project:-
• http://www.leeds.ac.uk/esrcfutureofwork/projects/details.html

In order to make your work easier I am sending you some notes from the seminars regarding the three countries Japan, Germany and China


One debate in the academic literature concerns the extent to which the traditional German system of employee relations is changing. This seminar considers two (early) contributions to this debate and a more recent perspective.
Please read one of the three articles below.

1. Hassell, A. (1999) ‘The Erosion of the German System of Industrial Relations’ British Journal of Industrial Relations 37.3.

What are the traditional advantages of the german employee relations systems?
How are these being eroded (give examples)?
Why is this erosion happening?

2. Kilkauer, T. (2002) ‘Stability in Germany’s industrial relations: a critque on Hassel’s erosion thesis’ British Journal of Industrial Relations, 40, 2, 295-308.

On what grounds does Kilkauer challenge Hassell’s erosion thesis?
Why might it be unhelpful to think in terms of one model of employee relations in Germany?

3. Doellgast, V. and Greer, I (2007) vertical disintegration and the disorganisation of German industrial relations’ British Journal of industrial Relations 45, 1, pp55-76.

In what ways have organisations disintegrated their operations and why? -. give some examples from the automotive sector and telecommunications
What impact has this had on trade unions and works councils and how have they responded?
They comment that ‘we argue here that vertical disintegration contributes to mpore disruptive changes in Germany’s industrial relations institutions than other forms of organisational restructuring’ (page 58) What do they mean by this and why do they each this conclusion?


Continuity and Change in Japanese Employee Relations System

Question 1
What changes are happening to the wage system in Japan?
Why are these occurring?

S. Wataake (2000) ‘The Japan Model and the Future of Employment and Wage Systems’ International Labour Review 139, 3 specifically pages 324 ??” 328

H. Shibata (2000) ‘The Transformation of the Wage and Performance Appraisal in a Japanese firm’ International Journal of Human Resource Management 11, 2 specifically pages 301 – 312

E. Kyotani (1999) ‘New Managerial Strategies of Japanese Corporations’ in Felstead and Jewson (eds) Global Trends in Flexible Labour’ specifically pages 184 – 189

K. Kubo (2008) Japan: the resilience of employment relationships and the changing condition of work in Lee and Eyraud (eds) Globalisation, Flexibilization and WorkingConditions in Asia and the Pacific Oxford Chandos pp 172 ??” 180

J. Benson and P. Debroux (2003) flexible Labour Markets and Individualised Employment: the beginnings of a new Japanese HRM system’ Asia Pacific Business Review 9, 4, pp 62 ??” 67 and 68 – 70

Question 2
What changes are happening to the ‘lifetime employment’ system?
Why are these occurring?

C. Beggren and M. Nomura (1997) The Resilience of Corporate Japan case studies on Hitachi (pp 130 ??” 132), on motor vehicles (112 ??” 116) and Okuma (pp 151 ??” 153)

E. Kyotani (1999) ‘Mew Managerial Strategies of Japanese Corporations in Felstead and Jewson (eds) ‘Global trends in Flexible Labour specifically 189 ??” 191

J. Salmon (2004) ‘HRM in Japan’ in Budhwar (ed) ‘Managing Human Resources in Asia Pacific’ pg 65

M. Pudelko (2005) ‘Japanese Human Resource Management in Haak and Pudelko (eds) Japanese Management: the search for a new balance between continuity and change

T. Hanami (2006) ‘The Changing Labour Market, Industrial Relations and Labour Policy’ in R. Haak (ed) The Changing Structure of Labour in Japan

P. Pebroux (2006) ‘The shift towards a performance-based management system’ in R. Haak (ed) The Changing structure of Labour in Japan pg 28

K. Kubo (2008) Japan: the resilience of employment relationships and the changing condition of work in Lee and Eyraud (eds) Globalisation, Flexibilization and WorkingConditions in Asia and the Pacific Oxford Chandos pp 160 – 166

Question 3
What changes are advocated by the Japanese Employment Federation?
What explains the demand for the changes?

Gronning (1998) ‘Wither the Japanese employment system? The position of the Japan Employers Federation’ Industrial Relations Journal 29:4

Beggren & Nomura (1997) The Resilience of Corporate Japan pp 73 ??” 75

J. Salmon (2004) ‘HRM in Japan’ in Budhwar (ed) Managing Human Resources in Asia Pacific pp 70 – 71

P. Debrous (2003) Human Resource Management in Japan: Changes and Uncertainties ??” 89 – 91

J. Benson and P. Debroux (2003) flexible Labour Markets and Individualised Employment: the beginnings of a new Japanese HRM system’ Asia Pacific Business Review 9, 4, pp 60 ??” 62

Question 4
What developments are occurring in non-standard employment (eg temporary work, agency work etc?
What explains these developments?

K. Kubo (2008) Japan: the resilience of employment relationships and the changing condition of work in Lee and Eyraud (eds) Globalisation, Flexibilization and WorkingConditions in Asia and the Pacific Oxford Chandos pp 166 – 172

H. Gottfied and N. Hayoshi-Kato (1998) ‘Gendering work and deconstructing the narrative of the Japanese economic miracle’ Work, Employment and Society 12, 1, 25 ??” 46

Question 5

Trade union developments

Explain the changing demands by trade unions in ‘Shunto’ negotiations concerning work-life balance and non-regular workers.

Weathers, C. (2008) ‘Shunto and the shackles of competitiveness’ Business History 49,2. (see pages 187-188 and 190-193)

What is the role of community unions?

Suzuki, A. (2008) ‘Community Unions in Japan’ Economic and Industrial Democracy 29, 4, 492-520.


1) Read the following article selectively and identify the ways that employment is changing in China. What are the reasons for these changes?

Chen, L and Hou , B. (2008) ‘China:economic transition, employment flexibility and security’ in Lee, S. & Eyraud, F. (eds.) Globalization, Flexibility and Working Conditionsin Asia and the Pacific (Chapter 10). This book is on restricted loan

2) Read Chapter 4 in
Nichols and Cam (2005) Labour in a Global World
This book is on restricted loan

As an alternative you can read Nichols, T (et al) 2004 ‘Factory regimes and the dismantling of established labour in Asia: a review of cases from large manufacturing plants in China, South Korea and Taiwan’ Work, Employment and Society, 18, 4. 663-685. (available through SWETSWISE via Resources Online)

What are the advantages and disadvantages to employees of working for ChinaCo rather than a state owned enterprise?. Concentrate your reading on pages 106-118.

3) Read

Chan, A. (2000) ‘Globalization, China’s Free (real bonded) labour market and Chinese trade unions’ Asia-Pacific Business Review. Vol 6, number 3-4 Spring /Summer pages 260-281.
This journal is not available on-line but is in the journals section of the library

What have been the impacts of changing ownership patterns and regulations on workers?

Additional reading

Cook, L (2008) ‘The dynamics of employment relations in China: An evaluation of the rising level of labour disputes’ Journal of Industrial Relations (you can find this via the A-Z journals list at Resources Online) read pages 127-134.

Glover and Trivedi (2007) ‘Human Resource Management in China and India’ (Chapter 16) in Beardwell and Clayton (eds) Human Resource Management : A Contemporary Approach 5th edition


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