Accueil » 22-2 ( 1967) » Perspectives nouvelles des relations industrielles

Perspectives nouvelles des relations industrielles

Émile Gosselin


Dans cet article l’auteur écrit que nous continuons à scruter de vieux problèmes qui demeurent pratiquement inexpliqués. Car ces problèmes ont été abordés avec un certain manque d'imagination au niveau des méthodes, sans esprit de continuité et surtout sans déployer les efforts voulus en vue d'intégrer les connaissances acquises au sein d'un corps cohérent de théorie. L'auteur fait le point et surtout dégage des perspectives nouvelles en relations industrielles.


Insight into Industrial Relations

The main purpose of this study is to know whether the multi-disciplinary approach which gave birth and afterward stimulated the evolution of industrial relations in North America is still valid or not ?

The creation of Departments of industrial relations is the beginning of the modern era in this field. Such departments, as those of Laval's and Montreal's since 1944, in spite of their youth, succeeded in supplying private enterprises as well as Public administration with competent graduates. But the pioneers worried a lot about the slowness of research in industrial relations. Such association as the IRRA, established in 1948, completed the reflexion begun by the foundators in stimulating research in every aspects of labor, particularly in favouring the multi-disciplinary approach.


Conscious of its role in society, the University, by creating departments of industrial relations, wished to bring one of the answers to the many problems of our community in favouring research and accumulation of knowledge on labor problems. This institution cannot ignore the difficulties of our society in evolution. Even though many problems of manpower are out of date, some of them remain unsolved, but it should not refrain us from looking for the true meaning of labor, its role in our environment and its influence on our behaviour.

On the other hand, the role of the state in the field of industrial relations has changed a lot. It must now be more than a simple law-maker and a protector of property and personal security. It must look for a consensus between the interests involved. To do so, the state must have its own staff of specialists in industrial relations.

The growth of trade-unionism, the coming of collective bargaining and the intervention of the governments have given industrial relations an extremely fluid, delicate and complex character that demands everywhere the presence of a highly qualified personnel.


After a while, individual research was not valid any more. The need for exchange between the different disciplines became necessary in order to verify the many hypotheses. By creating departments of industrial relations, no one wanted to eliminate or to minimize the role of the traditional sciences. On the contrary they will always remain the basis of study for labor problems. Individual research bringing only parts of solutions, the creation of multi-disciplinary study team was to allow deeper and more comprehensive analysis of certain phenomenous never truly examined.

After surveys and information, one might criticize that we failed to look for a general interest common to all sciences involved in labor problems and that we cared too much for actuality instead of deepening the studies.

We continue to examine old problems which practically remain unexplained because they were approached with a lack of imagination in the methods, without a spirit of continuity and especially without really trying to integrate the results obtained into a coherent theorical framework.

From the preceeding critics does not follow a systematic refusal to the multi-disciplinary approach for the study of labor problems. We believe that multi-disciplinary teaching is essential for a real understanding and interpretation of the problems. Two results will follow :

1 ) more and more important essays of conceptualization ;

2) trends of integration between the different sciences,


If we want a new start in the field of industrial relations, we will have to solve the following problems :

1 ) lack of material and human resources ;

2 ) slowness of research ;

3) lack of professorial resources.

It is only with the multi-disciplinary research that an integration of the concepts and a real dialogue might be realized between specialists of different approaches of multi-disciplinary and inter-universitary research with a frame of progression accepted by all and within a frame of reference that would allow everyone to bring his effort.

The most important thing in my proposal is the notion of exchange which is the counterpart of the principle of the division of labor. We think that if we want to elaborate a frame of reference being common to all specialists in industrial relations, that frame of reference will have to be based on the concept of exchange.