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In recent years, a significant amount of public and academic attention has been devoted to the unravelling of the so-called 'New Deal' social contract and the emergence of a new social contract between workers and employers in the United States of America (US). In our paper, we will identify the forces of change that undermined the New Deal social contract during the post-World War II era and led to the reformulation of the workplace social contract in the US. It is our thesis that the transformation of the workplace social contract in the US significantly affected the resolution of employment disputes, giving rise to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and other new approaches to conflict management. After briefly describing the origins of the New Deal social contract, we will assess the alignment of forces that resulted in the reformulation of the social contract in the 1990s. This new social contract has had historic consequences for most dimensions of the employment relationship, including job security, methods of pay, unionisation, and supervision, but its effects on workplace dispute resolution are especially noteworthy.


Suggested Citation
Lipsky, D. B. & Seeber, R. L. (2003). The social contract and dispute resolution: The transformation of the social contract in the United States workplace and the emergence of new strategies of dispute resolution [Electronic version]. International Employment Relations Review, 9(2), 87-109.

Required Publisher’s Statement
© International Employment Relations Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.