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Collective Bargaining and Changing Industrial Relations in China.

Lessons from the U.S. and Germany

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Siqi Luo

This study focuses on the status and prospects of collective bargaining in China based on lessons learned from the post-war United States and Germany. The author regards collective bargaining as a type of core wage regulation that emerged from production regimes at the factory level and from economic and labor policies of the state. This analysis compares the production regimes and the state-labor-capital relations in China today with the U.S. and German models in order to identify the missing links as well as potential driving forces in the current system of collective contract in China. Finally, the author proposes an ideal model of collective bargaining in China, one that offers solutions to a more just and sustainable trajectory of industrial development and that tailors to the power status of the major actors in industrial relations.

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Theoretical perspectives: labor relations and socioeconomic transformation in China

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Industrial relations have increasingly become an inescapable topic in light of China’s sweeping socioeconomic transformations. This study attempts to examine the statuses and prospects of collective bargaining within China’s changing industrial relations. In order to do so, it is necessary to first overview the existing research and to introduce a theoretical framework that fits to the major questions of this study. In the past, there has been a wealth of remarkable research on socioeconomic transformation, such as the collapse of planned economy and the establishment of the market, and the following changes of industrial relations in China. These scholars have provided on the ground facts and some meaningful insights. Nevertheless, previous studies on general wage policies and the mechanism of collective bargaining remain largely descriptive and rarely provide any clear answers to existing problematic statues of collective bargaining. Thus, this study attempts to offer a systematic analysis by referring to several theories and key concepts. The structure of my thesis is as follows: I first introduce the Regulation Approach, a most relevant theory on capitalism, as the overarching theory of this study. The two principal concepts from this approach - mode of regulation and regime of accumulation - are accordingly applied to respective countries, the United States, Germany, and China. In order to flesh out the ultimate problems of collective bargaining in China, the historical experience of the U.S. and Germany are reviewed. In particular, the key factors that influence the formation and function of collective bargaining, especially in the...

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