Strategic Unionism and Partnership: Boxing or Dancing?

Tony Huzzard (Editor), Denis Gregory (Editor), Regan Scott (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthology (editor)Popular science


This book is the major output of a research project exploring the relationship between social partnership and trade union renewal in a comparative context by reporting on recent experiences of co-operative approaches to industrial relations in eight countries: the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Romania and the US. Case studies were compiled to draw out illustrative aspects from the countries in question. Methodologically, the project was organised as a network of researchers and union practitioners from the participant countries. This network, supported by the SALTSA Programme, met over a three-year period with a view to developing a dialogue on the issues of social partnership with the specific aim of informing trade union futures. How do we understand ‘social partnership’? How does partnership vary across Europe and beyond? What are the implications of partnership for union renewal? This book addresses these questions by exploring the relationship between union renewal and partnership in an international context. The authors introduce and develop the terms ‘boxing’ and ‘dancing’ as metaphors for adversarial and co-operative industrial relations, and then offer an in-depth investigation of ‘dancing’ as a trade union strategy. There is little evidence across the countries covered in the paper to suggest that the pursuit of the dance, whether leading it or following it, is resulting in any new end state or convergent industrial relations dancing paradigm (cf European Commission, 1997). Rather, many cases show dynamic shifts between modes of industrial relations engagement that are predominantly boxing or predominantly dancing. Such dynamics, in our view, are better understood as the outcomes of strategic choices shaping long-run movements back and forth along a continuum from one dominant mode to the other. Effective unions will need to skilfully combine activities in both modes, which should be seen as mutually supportive and not comprising a trade-off. The book is an important contribution to debates on ’new unionism’ internationally and will be essential reading for practitioners and policy makers. It is also aimed at academic audiences, specifically researchers and undergraduates in fields of human resource management and industrial relations.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)1-4039-1756-6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration

Free keywords

  • trade unions
  • social partnership
  • work organization
  • Europe


Dive into the research topics of 'Strategic Unionism and Partnership: Boxing or Dancing?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this