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[Excerpt] During the past two decades there have been significant changes in employment systems across industrialized countries. Converging Divergences: Worldwide Changes in Employment Systems, by Harry C. Katz and Owen Darbishire, examines changes since 1980 in employment practices in seven industrialized countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and Italy—with a focus on the automotive and telecommunications industries. Katz and Darbishire find that variations in employment patterns within these countries have been increasing over the past two decades. The increase in variation is not simply a result of a decline in union strength in some sectors of the economy; variation has increased within both union and nonunion sectors. Despite this within-country divergence, Katz and Darbishire find that employment systems across countries are converging toward four common patterns of work practices: a low-wage employment pattern; the human resource management (HRM) employment pattern; a Japanese-oriented employment pattern; and a joint team-based employment pattern. Significant differences in national employment-related institutions have resulted in some variation across countries in how these work patterns are implemented. Still, Katz and Darbishire find that there are "many commonalities in the employment systems of the seven countries and in the processes through which these commonalities have developed."


Suggested Citation

Boyer, G. R. (2005). Editor's introduction (Review symposium on Converging divergences: worldwide changes in employment systems) [Electronic version]. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 54(3), 681-682.

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