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What shapes industrial relations in foreign affiliates? Comparative case study results from Germany

Dörrenbächer, C, Tüselmann, H, Meissner, HR and Cao, Q ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5928-8422 (2021) What shapes industrial relations in foreign affiliates? Comparative case study results from Germany. Critical Perspectives on International Business, 17 (4). pp. 481-501. ISSN 1742-2043

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to develop an analytical framework to categorize the quality of industrial relations in foreign affiliates. Using the case of foreign affiliates in Germany, this paper further explores what factors shape the quality of industrial relations in foreign affiliates. Design/methodology/approach: Given the scarcity of research on industrial relations in foreign affiliates, this paper is based on conceptual work as well as on a comparative case investigation of 21 foreign affiliates in Germany, involving informants from both labor and management. Findings: Industrial relations in foreign affiliates in Germany can take four different qualities, based on the following: social partnership; conflict partnership; latently adversarial; and adversarial relations. While previous literature focused on country-of-origin effects, the authors’ case-based investigation further revealed that both affiliate effects and multinational corporation (MNC) effects have a strong impact on the quality of industrial relations in foreign affiliates in Germany. Originality/value: This paper provides systematic evidence on the presumption that micro-organizational and MNC-specific factors are necessary to gain a deeper understanding of industrial relations in MNCs. Moreover, this paper contributes to the discussion on the quality of industrial relations in foreign affiliates in Germany, by placing results from both single-case studies and management surveys into perspective.

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