By Paul Marginson, Keith Sisson (auth.)

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These may not necessarily result in identical arrangements from unit to unit, let alone country to country. Nonetheless, the outcomes are more similar because of these pressures, resulting in what Katz and Darbishire call ‘converging divergencies’. Since industrial relations systems reflect the articulation between developments at the macro, meso and micro levels, a ‘bottom-up’ perspective is as essential as a ‘top-down’ one if the dynamics of change are to be understood. Combining a ‘bottom-up’ with a ‘top-down’ perspective enables the relative importance of the different levels to be explored and the analytical premise of the diversity approach, ‘that many of the most important institutional structures … depend on the presence of regulatory regimes that are the preserve to the nation-state’ (Hall and Soskice, 2001: 4), to be interrogated.

Any impact on standard measures of macroeconomic performance is mediated through this key link, and therefore more diffuse. On the second, they confirm that coordination rather than centralization of collective bargaining is the key concept, but emphasize the importance of its vertical as well as horizontal dimension. e. the effectiveness of mechanisms of vertical coordination which ensure that lower levels comply with the terms of higher-level agreements. This depends on the provisions for legal enforceability, notably extension arrangements, of collective agreements.

Talk of ‘betweenness’ is also misplaced. Just as the EU cannot be placed on a continuum between ‘loose inter-governmentalism’ and the ‘superstate’ (Rosamond, 2000: 176), so too it would be wrong to situate the industrial relations framework between ‘Europeanization’ and ‘Americanization’. Complexity, uncertainty and instability look set to be the defining characteristics for the foreseeable future, with considerable scope for policy makers and practitioners to exert influence on future directions.

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