[Excerpt] In this essay, we reexamine a critical paradox in international and comparative industrial relations, a paradox that already decades ago demonstrated its ability to intrigue scholarly curiosity (Galenson, 1952,1963; Kerr et al, 1960). As we see it, convergence along a number of important dimensions, such as labor law and organizational and bargaining structure, is occurring simultaneously with widespread cross-national and local divergence, or diversity, in industrial relations practices and outcomes. Along with economic and political interdependence and with intensifications of market competition, convergence and diversity both appear to be product of an increasing spread of markets and ideas sometimes referred to as "globalization."
In employing this term, we intend to make the point that the conduct of global business is no longer confined to the sort of international trading and related activities that have been carried on for centuries already. In the modern era, the production and exchange of both goods and services occur increasingly on a global scale (Reich, 1991). At this level, as capital mobility expands and trade agreements proliferate (NAFTA, CATT, the single European market), national governments find it increasingly difficult to regulate markets. This globalization of markets, we suggest, is the dominant force driving change (whether toward convergence or diversity) in the contemporary period. Our observations are especially applicable to the advanced industrial countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the primary focus of this paper, although the trends identified here probably also hold to some extent for newly industrialized countries and less developed societies as well.