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Mark E. Thompson

Mark E. Thompson

My brief bio is that I was born in California, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in economics, cum laude and received my MS and PhD degrees from Cornell, the latter  in 1966.  My first teaching job was at McMaster, and I left to take a two-year position with the International Labour Office, in Geneva, Switzerland.  I accepted an appointment at UBC in 1971, and I taught in the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration (now the Sauder School of Business) until my retirement as a full professor in 2004.  I held the William Hamilton Chair in Industrial Relations for much of my time there.  Since my retirement, I have been active in a number of professional activities.  For about 20 years, I was an active labour-management arbitrator and was elected to the National Academy of Arbitrators in 1983, the second British Columbian to be accepted.  I also prepared a report for the provincial government reviewing the Employment Standards Act, published in 1994, which is still cited although a right-wing government rolled back many of the protections of the Act.  I received an honorary doctorate from Laval in 2009 and was named to the Order of Canada in 2018.

Could you tell us a bit about two important articles you've written in your carreer?

This publication was important in my tenure decision at UBC and was controversial.  Previously, many observers of public sector industrial relations believed that the availability of interest arbitration undermined collective bargaining (the "narcotic effect.")  Our paper found that bargaining persisted for over 30 years of arbitrations.  An American scholar attacked us personally on several occasions over a period of years.  About 10 years after our article, a review of American public sector industrial relations did not even mention the narcotic effect, which had been disproven.

My second example of a publication was "The Management of Industrial relations," in Morley Gunderson and Daphne Taras, eds., Canadian Labour and Employment Relations.  This project did not end as I had hoped, but the chapters in the standard text for Canadian industrial courses was the first empirical study of Canadian management in unionized firms.  It dispelled some traditional views of management practices.  I thought that it was appropriate for students, most of whom would become managers after they left universlty.