Industrial Relations as a Field in Australia: The Implications of a Decentralized Labor Market

Russell D. Lansbury, Grant Michelson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


With the decentralization and deregulation of the labor market over the past decade or so, there has been considerable debate about the future of industrial relations as a discipline or field of enquiry in Australia. Much of this literature assumes a discipline in decline, or at least at a crossroads, in terms of its purpose and continued relevance. In order to both evaluate these general claims and provide a more nuanced understanding of the future of the field in Australia, this chapter examines industrial relations in terms of three major dimensions: as a field of teaching, research, and practice. This exercise reveals important differences about the situation facing the discipline. Despite advances by human resource management (HRM) in universities, the teaching of industrial relations remains important even if its separate identity is contracting slightly at the present time. In terms of research, the multi-disciplinary and policy-oriented approach has much to contribute to understanding the changing world of industrial relations in Australia and remains a strong dimension of the field. However, in the area of industrial relations practice we observe a major decline as industrial relations and human resource professionals in Australia have become less important both in the wider regulation of work and within business organizations. We conclude that the field needs to broaden its focus to 'work and employment relations', seek more theoretically informed ways to explain contemporary developments in labor markets and societies, while at the same time remain committed to its traditional goals of equity and efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
EditorsDavid Lewin, Bruce E. Kaufman
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)0762312653, 9780762312658
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

NameAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
ISSN (Print)07426186


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