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ILR Awards Sweep

Dissertations, faculty paper earn top honors

In thanking the Labor and Employment Relations Association for naming him the first winner of the James G. Scoville Best International Paper Award, ILR faculty member Lowell Turner acknowledged an unidentified critic.

"Thanks especially to the anonymous reviewer who didn't like the paper … to paraphrase John Lennon, although he was wrong he was right -- and the paper is much the better for having had to grapple with his or her well-informed, insightful comments," Turner said.

Using constructive criticism to strengthen academic research can be an acquired art, a scholarly skill that Turner and faculty teach students – particularly Ph.D. students who must perfect that skill as they navigate the dissertation review gauntlet.

"Don't give in to anxiety and self doubt, just learn from it," Turner advises students.

This winter, at the same Atlanta, Ga., event where Turner's award was presented, two ILR doctoral graduates were named winners of the Thomas A. Kochan and Stephen R. Sleigh Best Dissertation Awards Competition.

It was affirmation for years of quiet work by individuals and of mentoring by faculty members who helped guide the dissertations.

Marco Hauptmeier Ph.D. '09 and Mingwei Liu Ph.D. '08 were named co-winners of the top prize from the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Hauptmeier’s dissertation is titled "Constructing Institutions: Collective Bargaining in Multinational Companies."

Turner was his dissertation adviser; committee members included ILR's Harry Katz and Rosemary Batt, Peter Katzenstein of the Cornell Government Department and Ulrich Jürgens of the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin. Hauptmeier is now on the faculty at Cardiff University in Wales.

Liu's dissertation is titled "Chinese Employment Relations and Trade Unions in Transition." Sarosh Kuruvilla served as dissertation adviser; committee members were Rosemary Batt and Rebecca Givan.  Liu is now a Rutgers University faculty member.

Both Liu and Hauptmeier completed their doctoral work through ILR'S Department of International and Comparative Labor.

Another ILR graduate, Ryan Lamare '04, '05, '08, received honorable mention in the dissertation competition for "Union Mobilization and Voter Turnout in Los Angeles: The County Federation of Labor in Politics."  Lamare is currently working on several research projects.

David Lipsky, Lamare's dissertation adviser, was named this year by the association as a Labor and Employment Relations Fellow for his research on the dispute resolution and conflict management process.

Turner's winning paper, "Institutions and Activism: Crisis and Opportunity for a German Labor Movement in Decline," challenges perspectives on German industrial relations – and comparative labor movements more broadly – through case studies of trade union innovation.  Information was collected through interviews in the field.

"I research by going out and talking to people ... and writing about it in an accessible way," Turner said.  "Although I strive to be rigorous in analysis, the field work is in some ways more like investigative journalism than traditional academic research.  I believe this is essential to find out what is going on in the world, beneath the numbers, equations, existing research and analysis."

The awards committee said that the paper "reveals the inadequacies of theories of stability and collapse and forwards a new theoretical framework that distinguishes between institution building and institutional revitalization."

"It argues that the literature on institutions and activism need to be more closely integrated and offers a framework that has theoretical value for researchers and practical value for activists," the committee said.  "Its conclusions suggest grounds for optimism for unions and argues that 'for unions, opportunities for alternative choices are there.'"