The article deals with current developments in industrial relation – traditionally
organized within a national framework –, in the context of growing globalization. More
precisely, it examines what happens to the Belgian system of industrial relations
confronted to globalization. The paper first sums up the main challenges that globalization
represents for national industrial relations systems. Second, it looks to those systems
and refers to recent research to show how they keep their national specificity even
though they are not static. They face external pressures but react with their own specific
dynamics. Applied to the Belgian case, that means that the industrial relations system
does not copy a foreign model nor follows an European standard. On the contrary, it
remains characterized by a high level of institutionalisation, a high degree of internal co-ordination and a significant rate of union affiliation. In sum, the industrial relations « à la
belge» keep their characteristics, while they integrate cross-national movements. Finally,
the paper examines the specific case of multinational companies, in which
interdependencies between global trends and local institutional conditions are frequent.
Based on exploratory research conducted in Belgian subsidiaries of foreign groups in
the chemical industry, it illustrates the complex interactions between local industrial
relations and decision-making at the top of the multinational company. As such,
multinationals materialize interdependencies between local and global levels. The two
levels are intricate and their interactions result in local adjustments under constraints.
relations sociales en Belgique
Belgian industrial relations
Plan de l'article
1. GLOBALISATION : ENJEUX POUR LES RELATIONS
2. LA FIN DES SYSTÈMES NATIONAUX ?
3. RELATIONS INDUSTRIELLES ET ENTREPRISES