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Beyond convergence versus path dependence: The internationalization of industrial relations at Ford Germany and Britain (1967 - 1985)

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  • Fetzer, Thomas
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    Abstract

    In der vergleichenden Forschung zu industriellen Beziehungen sind Internationalisierungsprozesse lange vor allem im Hinblick auf eine mögliche Konvergenz nationaler Modelle diskutiert worden. Konvergenz versus Pfadabhängigkeit entwickelte sich zu einer der zentralen Debatten. In der Forschung über multinationale Firmen fand diese Debatte ihr Äquivalent in der Gegenüberstellung von 'Exportversuchen' durch Firmenzentralen und deren Beschränkung durch Regulierung im Empfängerland. In jüngster Zeit haben jedoch viele Autoren darauf hingewiesen, dass eine komplexere Analyse von Internationaliserungsprozessen notwendig ist, welche über die Dichotomie zwischen Konvergenz und Pfadabhängigkeit hinausgeht. Der Artikel schließt an diese Ansätze an und präsentiert eine historische Fallstudie über den Einfluss grenzüberschreitender Integration von Tochtergesellschaften auf die industriellen Beziehungen bei Ford in Deutschland und Großbritannien zwischen 1967 und 1985. Ich argumentiere, dass 'Konvergenz' und 'Pfadabhängigkeit' mit einem dritten Ansatz verbunden werden sollten, den man als 'differentielle Internationalisierung' bezeichnen kann, da er jeweils landesspezifischen graduellen Wandlungsprozessen nachgeht, die aus der Integration von Tochtergesellschaften erwachsen. Im Schlussteil wird versucht, einige Implikationen der Fallstudie für die gegenwärtige Internationaliserungsdebatte herauszuarbeiten. -- For a long time scholars of industrial relations tended to associate notions of internationalization with the debate about the cross-border convergence of industrial relations systems. Convergence versus path dependence was thus a key controversy in industrial relations studies for decades. This debate was mirrored in multinational companies when their attempts to 'export' industrial relations practices to foreign subsidiaries encountered host country influences that constrained such attempts. In recent years many scholars shown the need for a wider and more complex analysis of internationalization processes that goes beyond the convergence/path dependence dichotomy. Building on this development, the paper presents a historical case study of the impact of cross-border subsidiary integration on industrial relations at Ford Germany and Ford UK between 1967 and 1985. I argue that convergence and path dependence need to be combined with a third 'differential internationalization' approach that reflects the country-specific gradual change that emerges from subsidiary integration. The paper concludes by reflecting on the implications of the case study for contemporary internationalization debates.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Working Paper with number 09/3.

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    Date of creation: 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:p0085

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