Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

Transformation and Muddling Through Industrial Relations and Industrial Training in the UK

The article considers two related institutional domains, industrial relations and industrial training, in the UK. It analyses the trajectory and magnitude of change, seen in terms of a) forms of coordination/governance and b) the saliency of these domains. The article covers a long time period, pivoting on the years of Conservative government between 1979 and 1997. It argues that trajectories of change in these two domains began earlier than these years and are still not fully unfolded in the industrial training area. Throughout, change involved combinations of both strategic transformation and muddling through by key actors. There are some complementarities between these two domains and with other domains, but there are also significant disjunctures. In explaining change, some emphasis is placed on politics, but also on the ‘voluntaristic’ nature of labour market institutions in Britain and on employer preferences in labour, product and financial markets and in political contexts.

Keywords: industrial relations, muddling through, training, transformation

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