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Sectors or countries? Typologies and level of analysis in comparative industrial relations

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Publication details

JournalEuropean journal of industrial relations
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jul 2012
DatePublished (current) - Sep 2012
Issue number3
Number of pages33
Pages (from-to)185-202
Early online date20/07/12
Original languageEnglish


This article investigates the relevance of sector differences in comparative industrial relations. A critique of the ‘methodological nationalism’ of traditional comparative industrial relations is proposed on the basis of an empirical analysis of industrial relations indicators in nine different sectors across the 27 EU member states. It is found that industrial relations vary across sectors as deeply as they do across countries, and that a cluster analysis of sectoral industrial relations produces very different results from one at national aggregate level. The concept of ‘national model’ of industrial relations, implying coherence and homogeneity within countries, and typologies of geographic industrial relations ‘types’ are therefore put in question. The article concludes by pointing at the theoretical and methodological implications of a focus on the sector as an important level of analysis.

    Research areas

  • Comparative industrial relations, sector, typology, cluster analysis, Europe, country variation

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