Jack Eaton's Comparative Employment Relations is one of the few books on the market that actually compares different employment relations systems, rather than simply providing a set of discrete chapters that encourage the reader to make the comparisons. Admittedly there is a significant focus on Japan in the first part of the text but this is useful in contextualising the uniqueness of each country, as well as providing glimpses of the familiar patterns that prevail among all industrial nations. Thereafter, Eaton's text ranges in search of patterns and differences. This journey tends to alight on countries with the most available literature and data, so Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Scandinavia, Australia and Japan predominate. But other areas also get a mention and there is a sufficiently strong comparative focus to help students understand and explore the resemblances and peculiarities of their own country.
Underlying the book is a quest to find the convergence that appears to prevail over the arena, but the "global system" always appears just out of reach and Eaton provides some valuable rejoinders to those seeking either the map where all the roads converge or the map that suggests no two roads are remotely similar. However, the most valuable elements of the book are sections on the introduction of comparative labour law, the importance of globalisation for industrial relations, and the dilemmas involved in setting minimum standards for international trade. These are critical issues but are seldom addressed adequately in a single text. Such a book can only ever be an introduction, but Eaton has provided a valuable beginning.
Keith Grint is reader in organisational behaviour, Templeton College and Said Business School, Oxford.
Comparative Employment Relations: An Introduction. First edition
Author - Jack Eaton
ISBN - 0 7456 2292 5 and 2293 3
Publisher - Polity
Price - £50.00 and £14.99
Pages - 230