The Social Foundations of Industrial Power challenges the theory of industrial convergence, which maintains that as societies become more modern, they develop increasingly similar industrial structures and industrial relations and "converge" to resemble a single model of the advanced industrial society. The book opens by analyzing the considerable differences between the pay scales for direct labor in French and German industry. It then takes up and summarizes the results of the authors' research into such questions as: How has the wage-labor relation developed in each society? How are skills developed in the labor force (the educational factor)? What circumstances affect job mobility (the occupational factor)? How are authority relations established within the firm, and what kind of cooperation exists between labor and management (the organizational factor)? How are conflicts resolved (the industrial relations factor)? The authors' own theory is explained in relation to the prevailing economic theories of the labor market, theories of organization, and theories of industrial relations. And after empirical observation, they conclude that one can find no homogenization of French and German work relations and that, in fact, national specificities exist and are maintained through relations in education, training, and promotion.
Marc Maurice is a head of research at the National Center for Scientific Research, Laboratory of Economics and Sociology of Work, Aix en Provence.
Francois Sellier is Professor of Labor Economics and Industrial Relations, Paris-Nanterre University.
J.-J. Silvestre is a head of research at the National Center for Scientific Research, Laboratory of Economics and Sociology of Work, Aix en Provence.
The Social Foundations of Industrial Power makes one of the most convincing empirical arguments to date that a machine's construction does not, by itself, determine its use. A society's collective ideas about the just distribution of authority; its system of education, and its industrial-relations institutions—all of these play a decisive role in the construction of factory hierarchies and the definition of individual jobs and careers. Here, at last, is meticulous, methodologically imaginative documentation for the widely held, but seldom-demonstrated belief that social choices influence the use of technology.
Charles F. Sabel, Associate Professor of Social Science
The Social Foundations of Industrial Power provides important insights into the interactions among schools, business organizations, and the industrial relations system in France and Germany. It offers an impressive new perspective on the sources of economic performance and economic opportunity in industrialized societies.