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Discuss the contribution made by Dunlop to industrial relations theory?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dunlop expanded the idea of industrial relations to analyze every thing as a function of everything else. In an industry, he states, nothing is separate from its other parts—an industrial complex is always comprised of employers, managers, technology, the market, the government, and ideologies, among many other things.

Prior to his explanation, each function was treated as a separate unit, and they were analyzed individually. His theory created a broader understanding of the context surrounding industrial organizations and helped to correct and steer the relationships within them by analyzing ideologies and environments as opposed to simply the employees, managers, and technology.

As a seasoned industrial professional, Dunlop knew that a purely sociological view of industrial businesses was ineffective in truly probing how they function. His holistic approach gives a much better understanding and has helped guide businesses since its introduction.

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pnhancock eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Theories of industrial relations prior to Dunlop's theory conceptualized the different aspects of industry- employers, employees, and the state- as separate structures that worked independently, and were entirely autonomous from each other and environmental factors. Dunlop posited that industrial relations actually functioned like a system in which every aspect was interconnected. He also emphasized the social context that shaped the roles of these three components of industrial relations, arguing that employees and employers, as well as employers and the state, interacted differently depending on external factors. The system of industrial relations, according to Dunlop, was influenced by three major factors: technological progress, the state of the economy, and political leadership. Essentially, what Dunlop contributed to understandings of industrial relations was a theory that incorporated social, political, and economic context in order to conceptualize industrial relations as a social system between workers, employers, and the government.

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