The Paradox of Organizing Workers in Centralized Industrial Relations Systems.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Paradoxically, the more innovative trade union organizing techniques are often found in liberalized industrial relations system, for example - North America. Centralized systems of industrial relations used to be 'lazier' in recruiting workers, relying on incentives bestowed by the state, most notably the 'Gent System'. Hence, in the past it was assumed that industrial relations in centralized (or corporatist) systems are more characterized by top-down empowerment of trade unions by the state, while liberal (pluralist) systems were based on bottom-up delegation of power from the workers to the trade union. Therefore, for the centralized system there is more of a need to forge stable political exchange with the employers and the state to preserve the power delegated from above, while the pluralist system needs to recruit the workers themselves. However, declining membership, particularly in centralized systems without the 'Gent System's' support, creates a legitimacy gap. The papers seeks to address the question of organizing strategies in centralized systems that seek to overcome the membership crisis. The paradox is that innovation in organizing that draws on, for example, American strategies, can potentially exacerbate a more then desirable transformation of the IR system, towards a liberal system of collective bargaining. Examples, such as the Dutch FNV Bondgenoten's efforts to organize cleaning staff and the Israeli Histadrut on organizing workers in the Chemicals industry will be used to illustrate the paradoxes of organizing in a centralized context. ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2007
EventLaw and society association: Annual meeting - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 25 Jul 2007 → …


ConferenceLaw and society association
Period25/07/07 → …


  • LABOR unions
  • INDUSTRIAL relations
  • LABOR-management committees
  • LABOR laws


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