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This paper analyzes the concept of “transformation” that many allege has occurred recently in a wide variety of national industrial relations systems. After a summary of the debate, with particular reference to the contentious case of Germany, the authors attempt to develop a definition of industrial relations system transformation on the basis of biological analogies and, in particular, the “punctuated equilibrium” theory. They examine the cases of the United States, Sweden, South Africa, and New Zealand, and conclude that the application of the biological frameworks raises a set of fundamental questions that must be addressed in order for the debate over the existence of industrial relations transformation to move forward.


Suggested Citation
Erickson, C. L., & Kuruvilla, S. (1998). Industrial relations system transformation. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site:

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright by Cornell University. Final paper published as: Erickson, C. L., & Kuruvilla, S. (1998). Industrial Relations System Transformation. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 52, 3-21