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Industrial Relation as a Field of Study

In: Business and Management

Submitted By emem
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The term "Industrial Relations" has developed both a broad and a narrow meaning. Originally, industrial relations was broadly defined to include the totality of relationships and interactions between employers and employees. From this perspective, industrial relations covers all aspects of the employment relationship, including human resource (or personnel) management, employee relations, and union-management (or labor) relations. Since the mid-twentieth century, however, the term has increasingly taken on a narrower, more restricted interpretation that largely equates it with unionized employment relationships. In this view, industrial relations pertains to the study and practice of collective bargaining, trade unionism, and labor-management relations, while human resource management is a separate, largely distinct field that deals with nonunion employment relationships and the personnel practices and policies of employers. Both meanings of the term coexist in the twenty-first century, although the latter is the more common.
The term "industrial relations" came into common usage in the 1910s, particularly in 1912 upon the appointment by President William Taft of an investigative committee titled the Commission on Industrial Relations. The commission's charge was to investigate the causes of widespread, often violent labor conflict and make recommendations regarding methods to promote greater cooperation and harmony among employers and employees. Shortly thereafter, the term gained even greater saliency in the public mind due to the wave of strikes, labor unrest, and agitation for "industrial democracy" that accompanied the economic and political disturbances associated with World War I. As a result, by the beginning of the 1920s universities began to establish industrial relations centers and programs to conduct research and train students in...

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