Cet article tente de classifier les principales théories de relations industrielles en fonction des paradigmes largement popularises en sciences sociales. Cette classification repose sur des caractéristiques traditionnellement reconnues dans le domaine scientifique, ce qui la distingue de la littérature existante.
Whatever we call industrial relations a field of study or a discipline, many authors since Dunlop's Industrial Relations Systems (1958), have tried to develop models and theories in order to integrate the different aspects of this phenomenon. Although they are not unanimous in defining and describing what should characterize it, the literature shows different and interesting approaches that may be usefully consulted understanding industrial relations. Facing that «theoretical reality», many scholars such as Dabscheck, Gospel, Kirkbride, Blain and Gennard, Walker, Schienstock, Adams, Hameed and Young to mention some of these, have tried to develop an adequate framework which could be used to classify models and theories in industrial relations.
With two different continuums frequently used in the social sciences, the authors of this article try to identify the main paradigms applied to industrial relations.
The graphic No 2 of this article illustrates the different paradigms frequently used by social scientists. After having reviewed the different industrial relation theories and models, the authors, using the paradigms found in the social sciences literature, situate them on the two continuums shown in graphic No 3 of the article. That exercice brings the authors to the following conclusion: The functionalist approach is the one which regroups the majority of scholars interested in publishing about industrial relations theories.