Webbs on the Web bibliography

Beatrice and Sidney Webb and the intellectual origins of British industrial relations

Farnham, David (2008) Beatrice and Sidney Webb and the intellectual origins of British industrial relations. Employee relations, 30 (5). pp. 534-553. ISSN 0142-5455

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Purpose - This paper has the aim of revisiting the works of Beatrice and Sidney Webb in the field of industrial relations and assessing their intellectual contributions to the study of the labour market, unions and collective bargaining in Britain. Design/methodology/approach - The paper discusses the Webbs' studies of trade union history and union organisation, policy and methods that were first published at the end of the nineteenth century. Findings- In refuting critiques of unions in the market economy by English classical and neo-classical economists, and drawing on the ideas of the German school of historical economics, the Webbs incorporated organised labour into mainstream economic and political thought. Their major theoretical propositions were to set out an "agency model" of trade unions and an advanced system of democracy, in politics and at work, which unions would play a major part in promoting. In justifying the collectivisation of the employment relationship, the Webbs provided the intellectual foundations of the pluralist-institutional model of industrial relations, which was built upon by other scholars following the end of the World War II. Their prediction that collective bargaining would decline in importance, as democracy matured, and be replaced by legal regulation, has taken place for reasons unforeseen by themselves. Originality/value - The value of this paper is its reassessment of the Webbs' contribution to theory in the field and to the British collectivist tradition of industrial relations.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2015 16:56
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2015 16:57

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