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Title: An investigation into the determinants of UK strike activity in the post-war period : a theoretical and empirical analysis of four selected industries with lessons for aggregate strike patterns
Author: Murton, Adrian Charles Stuart
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1994
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A major part of this study is a test and extension of the work of Durcan, McCarthy and Redman on post-war strike activity in the UK. It begins with an appraisal of their approach and conclusions. The model developed in Section I builds upon these but has at its core a concern with management and worker attitudes, and like the Durcan, McCarthy and Redman study, with the capacity to engage in strike activity. In Section II, the operational form of this model is developed and is then employed in Sections III and IV to account for variations in strike activity at the broad industry level, and in four detailed industry studies, metals, shipbuilding and marine engineering, motor vehicles and coal-mining. Sections II and IV constitute the main empirical tests of this model and of the factors hypothesised to have an influence on longer-term movements in the main dimensions of stoppage activity. The longer-term movements in strike activity at the industry level are argued to be linked to broader political and economic changes and particularly to phases of industrial growth and development and to movements in the elements of the industrial circuit of capital. Critically, the study emphasises the importance of managerial responses to changes in stages of industrial development and to contradictions in the industrial circuit of capital for increased volumes of strike activity. The empirical results confirm the findings of other writers with regard to the limitations of economists' analyses of strikes but raise additional concerns about the usefulness and appropriateness of some of the variables they and writers such as Cronin have employed. Whilst the study confirms the role of aggregate economic influences, particularly since the early 1970s, the industry studies support the critical role of organisation in strikes, together with more localised and industry-specific factors, notably product market changes and the ways these are interpreted and acted upon by the parties. It is these product market factors and how managers in particular respond to them, together with the role of goverments, which are seen as critical in their effects on strike activity, and which most clearly distinguish this study from other accounts of strikes. In the context of government, the study confirms recent work on the impact of legislation in reducing strike activity since the mid 1980s but suggests that policies followed by governments towards public corporations have had a more general impact on their industrial relations and strike patterns which have particular relevance to longer-term movements in strike activity. In addition, it identifies other, previously neglected factors which have affected the strike activity in each of the industries studied.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available