Cornell University

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Student Profile

Ian Greer, ILR Ph.D. '06

Ian GreerIan Greer is an ILR Ph.D. candidate whose International Experience Grant will assist his final dissertation research in Germany during Summer 2005. The research includes visits to libraries and archives, and personal interviews in Berlin, Hamburg, Chemnitz, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Cologne.

Ian's dissertation consists primarily of comparative case studies. It compares union strategies in five sectors across the two countries. To enhance reliability, the sectoral studies are based on interviews from a wide range of regions in the countries. In Germany, the research sites include Berlin, Chemnitz, Stuttgart, Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg. The case studies are based on interviews with unionists, managers, employer association representatives and other outside observers (academics, union dissidents, government officials, etc.). They also contain some quantitative data on the extent of competitive pressures (privatization, vertical disintegration, shift of jobs out of the country and immigration) and the extent of disorganization of industrial relations within these sectors (coverage of sectoral bargaining, works council coverage and union density trends).

The expected findings show that during the past 30 years, unions in the U.S. and Germany have fundamentally reshaped their approach around the retention of "good jobs." This change in strategy has come at a time when union statuses as negotiators and social partners are threatened. The dilemmas of unions coping with the restructuring of the capitalist political economy are surprisingly similar in these two countries, despite very different institutions and traditions. On the one hand, attempts to deepen ties to powerful allies threaten to degenerate into clientelism. On the other hand, more entrepreneurial efforts to build broader coalitions and take on social issues beyond the workplace have failed to bring unions a new, stable role. Intensified worker-to-worker competition has this destabilized the national industrial relations rules, causing convergence in the choices and dilemmas of worker representatives.

ILR Professor Lowell Turner chairs Ian's dissertation committee.

- Ian Greer

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