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Title: Getting everybody back on the same team : an interpretation of the industrial relations policies of American business in the 1940s
Author: Harris, Howell John
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1979
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The thesis examines the reactions of policy-making managements of large industrial firms to the challenges to their power and authority accompanying the organization of relatively strong unions in the later 1930s and 1940s. It describes and explains the transformation in its approach to labour relations forced upon, American management during this period, setting this against a background account of the indus- trial relations strategies large firms followed in the pre-union era. It relates in detail the problems of labour relations American business encountered in the war period and immediately after, and examines the ideology and world-view of management as revealed in its perceptions of its problems. The second half of the thesis describes a successful 'recovery of the initiative' in industrial relations policy and practice by American management. It examines the contributions of large corporations and their pressure-groups to the reorientation of public policy towards organized labour which culminated in the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. It goes on to discuss the collective bargaining strategies of large manufacturers (particularly in the automotive industry) in the late 1940s, arguing that they acted with realism and conscious purpose to stabilize in-plant labour relations on terms acceptable to themselves. Management accepted unions - but acted to restrict their power, and compelled them to behave 'responsibly'. The final chapters examine other means by which management aimed to outflank and undermine unions, and to restore its own power and prestige - methods which .have usually been neglected by business and labour historians alike. The objectives and rationales of personnel administration, 'welfare capitalism' , in-plant propaganda, and public relations are analysed. Throughout, the emphasis is on managerial motivation, and on the ideological bases of business policy, as much as on actual practice. This is partly because the sources of the study include the rhetoric of the business community as well as the records of its behaviour. The work is, however, more than a partial intellectual history of American business: it concent- rates on practical men's perceptions and analyses of problems which confronted them, and on the rationales they produced for the actions they took.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business enterprises ; Personnel management ; History ; Collective bargaining ; Automobile industry ; Industrial relations ; United States ; 20th century