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Managing the Work Force:
International Perspectives

SMO 417

Course Outline


Term Instructor: Yonatan Reshef
Room: ??? BUS Office: 4-21A BUS
W Office Hour

Course Description

Many managers looking for new sources of competitive advantage are discovering the importance of the quality of human resources and how they are managed. Seeking guidance as they undertake major changes in work organization and decision making, managers have looked to the approaches developed by their competitors in different national contexts. One important lesson is, piecemeal adoption of one or another element of a coherent production system is likely to have, at best, a small effect on firm performance. Significant performance improvement requires implementation of a coherent production system that draws on new sources of continuous improvement and that uses new forms of organizational learning to mobilize the knowledge and creativity of employees.

The course contrasts different HRM systems that are used in North America, England, Sweden, Germany, France, and Japan. We use this contrast to explore the fundamental practices that make up each HRM system, and how national HRM systems evolved over time to fit their respective cultural and political-economic circumstances. The course thus emphasizes that HRM systems are not historical accidents. HRM systems have evolved over time into coherent managerial frameworks, each with its own internal logic and supportive institutions. A core question, therefore, is -- can a foreign HRM system be "imported" to Canada? By the end of the course, students should be able to better understand their own HRM experiences and, when they should, make informed choices on the HRM practices most appropriate for their own work units.

Course Requirements and Grading

1. Class presentation 35%

A note on student contributions:

On the day of the presentation, before the presentation begins, every team member may (yes, this part of the course is voluntary) submit, a sheet with the team member names including his/her own. A contribution mark will appear next to each name. The mark ranges from 0 (exceptionally poor) to 10 (excellent), and it must have a brief explanation based on the following guidelines.

Dimension Very Good Performance Very Poor Performance
Presence S/he was present at all team meetings. S/he was absent from all team meetings
Preparation S/he was always well prepared for team meetings S/he was usually not prepared
Contribution S/he contributed in a significant way to the development of the presentation S/he didn't contribute in a significant way to the development of the presentation
Attitude S/he was always respectful of others' ideas and comments S/he was not interested in others' comments. S/he was not respectful of others' ideas and comments.


Note, the CONTENTS of the evaluation may be disclosed to the student you are evaluating according to the FOIPP rules. Instructors may keep students' identities confidential, but not the content of the evaluation.

2. Mid-term Exam 25%

3. Term paper (Hard Copy; Must be Typed) 25% -- (Due on Friday, April 12, '02)

4. Participation 15%

To receive the full participation mark, students must attend at least 3 country presentations in addition to their own presentation. In other words, students may miss one presentation without losing any participation marks. Each additional missed presentation costs a third of the participation mark. Presence in a presentation means joining the class during its first 30 minutes (i.e., between 0900 - 0930) and staying throughout the presentation and following Q&A period (i.e., until 1150). Participation will also be judged based on the discussions which follow the presentations.

To pass the course, students must actively participate in a country presentation and follow-up discussions, write the mid-term exam, receive at least 5.0% in participation, and submit ON TIME a hard copy of the final paper.

A student who misses one of the above elements will fail the course.

Course Reading List

(Readings for weeks 1-4 and 12-13 are on reserve in Rutherford North, in a set of folders. Use the course number (ORGA 417) or my name (Y. Reshef) when asking for any of these folders). There is also a binder with the slides I use; for both binders, the author's name is Reshef Y.)


ABI - Article available off the Net at: http://ej.library.ualberta.ca/database/index.cfm?ID=61

For Off-Campus access to the ABI database, see:


WEEK I-IV: A Framework for Understanding HRM Systems

A.  Scientific Management & The Human Relations Movement

1. Frederick W. Taylor. 1985. The Principles of Scientific Management. Hive (2nd edition). 9-77, 128-132.

2. Mayo, Elton. 1945. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization. 1-56.

3. Henri Fayol. 1949. General and Industrial Management. London: Pitman. 19-42. *Note, this item is optional.

B.  From Control to Commitment

4. Richard E. Walton. "From Control to Commitment in the Workplace," Harvard Business Review, Vol. 63, 2, March-April, 1985, 77-84.

5. E.E. Lawler III, and S.A. Mohrman. "High-Involvement Management," Organizational Dynamics, April 1987, 27-31. 

6. David E. Bowen, and E.E. Lawler III. "Total Quality-Oriented Human Resources Management." Organizational Dynamics, (Spring), 1992, 29-41. 

7a. Ricardo Semler. "Managing without Managers." Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1989, 76-84.

7b. Ralph Stayer. "How I Learned to Let My Workers Lead." Harvard Business Review, November-December, 1990, 66-83.

C.  The High-Performance Work System

8. Gordon Betcherman et al. 1994. The Canadian Workplace in Transition. Kingston, Ont.: IRC. (Chapters 1 & 6).

9. A Note on Quality: The Views of Deming, Juran, and Crosby. Harvard Business School.

10. Larry W. Hunter. "Choices and the High-Performance Workplace." Mastering Management, Part 11. The Financial Post (also available on-line.)

WEEK V: An Overview:
England, Sweden, Germany, France, and Japan



WEEK VIII - XII: Country Presentations

Recent general resources:

Anthony Ferner and Richard Hyman (eds.). 1998 (2nd edition.). Changing Industrial Relations in Europe.  Blackwell.

Andrew Martin and George Ross (eds.). 1999. The Brave New World of European Labor. New York: Berghahn Books.

Harry C. Katz and Owen Darbishire. 2000. Converging Divergences: Worldwide Changes in Employment Systems. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Greg J. Bamber, Russell D. Lansbury, and Nick Wailes (eds.). 2004 (4th edition). International and Comparative Industrial Relations. Sage. (Note the chronology of events at the end of each chapter)

Sanford M. Jacoby. 2005. The Embedded Corporation: Corporation Governance and Employment Relations in Japan and the United States.  Princeton University Press.


Christel Lane. 1989. Management and Labor in Europe: The Industrial Enterprise in Germany, Britain and France. Edward Elgar.

W. Brown, "The Effect of Recent Changes in the World Economy in British IR," IR in a Decade of Economic Change, IRRA, 1985, ch. 5, pp. 151-176.

Leonard Rico, "The New Industrial Relations: British Electricians' New-Style Agreements," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 41, 1, 1987, 63-77.

Brian Towers, "Running the Gauntlet: British Trade Unions Under Thatcher, 1979-1988," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 42, 2, 1989, 163-188.

Brian Towers, "Trends and Developments in Industrial Relations: Derecognizing Trade Unions: Implications and Consequences," Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 19, 3, 1988, 181-185.

J.R. Shackleton, "Industrial Relations Reform in Britain since 1979," Journal of Labor Research, Vol. 19, 3, 1998, 581-605.

Stephen Wood and John Godard. "The Statutory Union Recognition procedure in the Employment Relations Bill: A Comparative Analysis." British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 37, 2, 1999, 203-245. (See also in this issue, articles by Mertcalf and Undy.)


R.B. Peterson, "Economic and Political Impacts on the Swedish Model of IR", in IR in a Decade of Economic Change, IRRA, 1985, pp. 301-336.

R. Meidner, "Collective Asset Formation Through Wage-Earner Funds", International Labour Review, Vol 120, 3, May-June 1981, pp. 303-317.

H.G. Myrdal, "Collective Wage-Earner Funds in Sweden", International Labour Review, Vol. 20, 3, May-June 1981, pp. 319-33.

Kristina Ahlen "Swedish Collective Bargaining Under Pressure: Inter-Union Rivalry and Incomes Policies," British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 27, 3, 1989, 330-346.

W. Korpi, The Working Class in Welfare Capitalism, 1980, pp. 76-108.

Nils Elvander. 2001. A New Swedish Regime for Collective Bargaining and Conflict Resolution. Paper presented at the International Industrial Relations Association 6th European Congress, 25-29 June, Oslo.  Download.


W. Streeck, "Co-Determination: the Fourth Decade," in B. Wilpert and A. Sorge, International Perspectives on Organizational Democracy, 1984, ch. 19, pp. 391-422.

Christel Lane. 1989. Management and Labor in Europe: The Industrial Enterprise in Germany, Britain and France. Edward Elgar.

K. Wever. 1995. Negotiating Competitiveness: Employment Relations and Organizational Innovation in Germany and the United States. Harvard.

John T. Addison, Kornelius Kraft & Joachim Wagner, "German Works Councils and Firm Performance." In B. Kaufman & M. Kleiner (eds)., Employee Representation, 1993, 305-338.

Dieter Sadowski, Uchi Backes-Gellner & Brend Frick, "Works Councils: Barriers or Boosts for the Competitiveness of German Firms?" British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 33, 3, 1995, pp. 493-513.

Felix R. FitzRoy & Kornelius Kraft, "Economic Effects of Codetermination." Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 95, 1993, pp. 365-375.

John T. Addison, Claus Schanbel, and Joachim Wagner. "On the Determinants of Mandatory Works Councils in Germany." Industrial Relations, 1997, Vol. 36, pp. 419-445.

Anke Hassel. "The Erosion of the German System of Industrial Relations." British Journal of Industrial Relations, 1999, Vol. 37, 3, pp. 483-505.

Virginia Doellgast & Ian Greer. "Vertical Disintegration and the Disorganization of German IR."  British Journal of Industrial Relations, 2007, Vol. 45, March, pp. 55-76.


Edward Shorter & Charles Tilly. 1974. Strikes in France: 1830-1968. Cambridge University.

Christel Lane. 1989. Management and Labor in Europe: The Industrial Enterprise in Germany, Britain and France. Edward Elgar.

W. Rand Smith, "Dynamics of Plural Unionism in France: The CGT, CFDT and Industrial Conflict," British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 22, 1, 1984, pp. 15-33.

J. D. Reynaud, "Trade Unions and Political Parties in France: Some Recent Trends," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 28, 2, 1975, pp. 208-225.

J.L. Barsoux & P. Lawrence. 1990. Management In France. Cassell.

Jean-Francois Amadieu, "Industrial Relations: Is France a Special Case?" British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 33, 3, 1995, pp. 345-352.

Steve Jefferys, "Down But Not Out: French Unions after Chirac." Work, Employment & Society, Vol. 10, 3, 1996, pp. 509-527.

Steve Jefferys, "France 1995: The Backward March of Labour Halted?" Capital and Society, Vol. 59, Summer, 1996, 7-21.

Steve Jeffrys. 2001. Wage Determination and the French State. Paper presented at the International Industrial Relations Association 6th European Congress, June 25-29, Oslo.  Download


Hanami, Tadashi, Labor Relations in Japan Today, 1979.

For some excellent information on the historical development of the Japanese management system see, Business History, Vol. 37, 2, April, 1995 (the whole issue).

Tsuyoshi Tsuru & James B. Rebitzer, "The Limits of Enterprise Unions: Prospects for Continuing Union Decline in Japan." British Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 33, 3, 1995, pp. 459-492.

Motohiro Morishima, "The Evolution of White-Collar HRM in Japan." Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, Vol. 7, 1996, pp. 145-176.

Hiromichi Shibata, "A Comparison of American and Japanese Work Practices: Skill Formation, Communications, and Conflict Resolution." Industrial Relations, Vol. 38, 1999, pp. 192-214.

Sanford M. Jacoby, Emily M. Nason, & Kazuro Saguchi, "The Role of the Senior HR Executive in Japan and the United States: Employment Relations, Corporate Governance, and Values." Industrial Relations, Vol. 44, 2005, pp. 207-241.

Japan Labor Review.  Special Issue on the Future of the Performance-Based Pay System in Japan.  Volume 4, No. 2, Spring 2007.  Especially: Shingo Tatsumichi and Motohiro Morishima. "Seikashugi from an Employee Perspective," pp. 79-104.

WEEK XIII: The Future of HRM

12.1 Edward E. Lawler III and Susan A. Mohrman. "Unions and the New Management," Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 1, 1987, 293-300. ABI

12.2 Paul S. Adler. "From Taylorism to Teamwork." Perspectives on Work, Vol. 1, 1, 1997, 61-65.

12.3 Herman Rosenfeld. "Team Concept at CAMI." Canadian Dimension, Jan/Feb, 1993, 21-24.

Term Paper

Your term paper MUST be typed using a 12 cpi type face (font) and double spaced. While there is no page limit, most papers average 10-13 pages. You should leave 1-inch margins all around.  The paper must be submitted in hard-copy format (i.e., I will not accept emailed copies unless you have discussed it with me).

The paper MUST present a comparative analysis of a topic of your choice across two countries of your choice (they don't have to be the countries presented in class). Both countries should get the same research attention. Sometimes, students compare the country they presented in class with another country. Since they feel more comfortable with "their" country, they give it more research attention. The final product is poor.

Whereas there is no formula to writing excellent papers, I believe that you will benefit from following these guidelines:

  • Introduction. The introduction should give both you and me a clear idea of what your paper is about. Clearly outline your research questions/arguments, the countries you deal with, and why you are interested in this research and countries. The rest of the paper must focus on these elements. Do not deviate from them. To effectively deal with the amount of available information, narrow down your research -- concentrate on a single question, issue, or argument. For example, do not compare the evolution of the French and Japanese HRM systems. Instead, focus on 1-2 HRM practices such as employee involvement, job security, reward systems, etc. Or, do not compare management systems in Britain and Germany. Instead , focus on management education and values as possible determinants of employee commitment.
  • Description. Next, describe the situation pertaining to the issues outlined in the introduction, across the chosen countries. This section provides the evidence for the following analysis. While this section is descriptive, make sure that it does not dominate the paper.
  • Analysis. Then, when you answer your research questions or substantiate your research arguments, focus on the why's and how's. NOTE, the analysis is the CORE of the paper. I am very interested in your analytical skills. A descriptive paper, no matter how well written and organized, will not receive more than 65% (16.25 points out of 25). In order to write an analytical paper, make sure to ask the right question. What are the similarities/differences between unions in Japan and France is not good enough because it will force you to write a descriptive paper. What are the sources of the differences between Japanese and French unions, is a good question because it will force you to analyze available information. 
  • Conclusion: Lessons for Canada. Finally, synthesize your findings by explaining what Canadian employers, employees, unions, and/or governments can learn from your research.
  • References. Don't forget to list all the sources you use at the end of the paper. Provide a full reference of each source (author's name, year of publication, title of publication, publisher, pages (if a book chapter or journal article). For Internet sources, reference the URLs.
  • General. Here are some additional guidelines that will help you avoid the most common problems students have had with their term papers:
  1. Organization. Make sure that your paper is well organized by using headlines. Headlines provide a structure and guide to the reader as the discussion evolves from one issue to another.
  2. Literature. You must use the literature to support your arguments. Put differently, do not make arguments that are not supported by evidence. Integrate your literature sources into the manuscript. By so doing, you will be able to ground your arguments. When you quote, make sure than you clearly provide the author(s) name(s), year of publication, and page number(s).
  3. Tables. If you present tables, clearly relate them to the paper.
  4. Conclusions. Use the conclusions section to summarize your findings and relate them to Canada. Do not introduce new issues in this section.
  • Group Projects? Yes, you can write the papers in groups of no more than 3 students.

I suggest that you see me before you start writing your paper to ensure that you are on the right track. It will benefit both of us if you come to this meeting with a written outline of the paper.

Finally, do not wait until the last moment -- start working on the paper as soon as possible.


Country Presentations

During the first two weeks of the course, students will be placed in teams of 4-6 for a country presentation. We start with the five countries covered by the course outline, that is, Britain, Sweden, Germany, France, and Japan (in this order).  Depending on the number of students in the class, we may be able to present one more country of your choice.

Each team must schedule an appointment with me at least one week before the presentation is due. Come to this meeting with an outline of what you will present.

Past experience has shown that a presentation is much more beneficial to everybody in class if accompanied by an outline. Each team should prepare such an outline for every student in the class. The outline will be given to the class one meeting before the presentation.

How the material is presented is up to each team. Usually a presentation is better if only 2-3 people present, and the other team members are prepared to answer questions during and after the presentation.

Each presentation should last 85-95 minutes. The rest of the class will be used for discussion of the presented country. The students and me will grade the presentations. Following the last presentation, you will have ranked all of the presentations (except your own) on a scale of 6-10. The students' rankings comprise 50% of the presentation mark. My ranking make up the other 50%.

Finally, students are encouraged to use any "props" that will help make the presentation more interesting and fun. In the past, students used music, videos, ethnic food, artifacts, and cases. Yet remember, these "extras" should never become the focus of the presentation.


Country Presentations--A Suggested Outline

A. The Setting

- Economic
- Political
- Legal
- Social

B. The HRM System

- HRM Flow -- recruiting, training, retaining
- Reward System -- monetary vs. non-monetary
- Worker Influence -- employee involvement in decision making, indirect
   involvement (through representatives)
- Work Design -- assembly line, teamwork

C. The Work System

- How all the elements of the HRM system hang together
- The fit between the HRM system and its environment

D. Lessons For Canada

        - HRM/IR practices/institutions you would like to see in Canada. Why?
        - The likelihood of their adoption in Canada. Why?
        - HRM/IR practices that should not be imported to Canada. Why?

Use this form to comment on today's presentation

Dr. Y. Reshef

COUNTRY (circle): GB   SW   GER   FR   JP 

Mark (should be filled after the last presentation) _______

1. Statement of goals and agenda for presentation
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Specification and coverage of major IR and HRM issues and concepts ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3. Current events
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Response to questions ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Overall impression ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Following the last presentation, you will have to rank all of the presentations (except yours) on a 6-10 scale. To help you fairly rank the presentations, please write down extensive comments.

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