This article uses a framework developed by Kuruvilla (1995a) that hypothesised a very close link between industrialisation strategies of Southeast Asian nations and industrial relations systems. That framework is used here to argue that the industrialisation strategy adopted by nations also influences the development of firm level IR/HR practices. Using case studies of firms in the ‘import substitution industrialisation’ (ISI) and ‘export oriented industrialisation’(EOI) sectors in Malaysia and the Philippines, the author finds that in both countries, the ISI sector is characterised by firm level IR/HR practices that are passive, pluralistic and paternalistic in nature, while the EOI sectors in both economies are characterised by IR/HR practices that can be termed aggressive, flexible, and dynamic in nature. In addition, given that Malaysia and the Philippines are currently at different stages of export oriented industrialisation, the cases demonstrate that workplace practices in the EOI sector in Malaysia are more dynamic and advanced than those of the Philippines. Thus, the article shows that the industrialisation strategies of nations create distinct patterns of industrial relations and human resource practices within the economy, controlling for other factors such as business strategies and the technological processes of firms that also cause such variation in IR/HR patterns.