Multinational Corporations and Industrial Relations Research: A Road Less Travelled

21 Pages Posted: 6 May 2008


While there is a large body of academic debate surrounding human resource management issues in multinational corporations (MNCs), industrial relations (IR) issues often fail to receive the same degree of attention. This paper attempts to move the debate forward by critically reviewing some of the key debates surrounding IR in an international context. First, some key themes surrounding the comparison of industrial relations across borders and IR in multinational companies are delineated and defined. Then, the reasons why an international IR (IIR) perspective has been under-represented in the literature to date are considered. The paper then explores the contribution which an IIR perspective can bring to the study of management practices in MNCs. This is discussed in terms of IIR's potential contribution as an alternative analytical approach and also differences in its substantive coverage. The impact of IR systems on MNC location and relocation decisions, key issues for employees, trade unions and managers of MNCs, is then discussed as an example of the former. The potential for, and evidence of, international collective bargaining as a potential counter-balance to the power the MNC in the global environment is then considered as an example of a differing area of substantive coverage of IIR. Finally, some avenues for potential study are outlined.

Suggested Citation

Collings, David G., Multinational Corporations and Industrial Relations Research: A Road Less Travelled. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 10, Issue 2, pp. 173-193, June 2008. Available at SSRN: or

David G. Collings (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield ( email )

17 Mappin Street
Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT
United Kingdom

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