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

[Barbara Bechter, Bernd Brandl] and Guglielmo Meardi
European Journal of Industrial Relations, 18, 3, 185-202

Abstract

This article presents a critique of the ‘methodological nationalism’ of traditional comparative industrial relations. It investigates nine different sectors across the 27 EU member states on the basis of seven empirical indicators. 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 geographical typologies of 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.