Article Title

John R. Commons and the Wisconsin School on Industrial Relations Strategy and Policy


The field of industrial relations in the United States is largely rooted in the early twentieth-century writings of John R. Commons and the Wisconsin School. The author documents and describes their strategy and recommended policy approach for improved industrial relations. The three core components of their strategy were stabilization of markets, equalization of bargaining power, and constitutional government in industrial enterprise. The author also shows that the thinking of Commons and his associates on the best way to achieve these three goals—and, in particular, their view of the appropriate mix of trade unionism, labor law, personnel management, and macroeconomic monetary/ fiscal policy—evolved through four distinct phases, starting about 1900 and ending in the late 1930s.

As of August 31, 2014, the ILR Review is published by SAGE. Please visit the journal site to read this article.