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International & Comparative Employment Relations - MAN00038H

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  • Department: The York Management School
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Tony Royle
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

To introduce and apply the theoretical perspectives and concepts for the international and comparative study
of employment relations. To compare and analyse the nature of the institutions underpinning employment
relations in a number of different countries.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

To introduce and apply the theoretical perspectives and concepts for the international and comparative study of employment relations. To compare and analyse the nature of the institutions underpinning employment relations in a number of different countries. To examine the impact of supranational regulation in particular the European Union on different European national employment systems. To examine developments in the international regulation of labour, in particular the increasing activity of multinational enterprises (MNEs), the development of international labour standards and corporate social responsibility and the responses of the global unions.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will:

  • Be able to understand and compare the nature of employment relations in several different countries for example Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, USA, Japan, China, UK; understand recent trends and developments in work and employment in different countries and the realities of managing employees in different national contexts
  • Understand the impact of the European Union on national employment rights in different countries
  • Understand the role and impact of multinationals and the global financial institutions on the international system of economic governance
  • Understand the problem of regulating labour standards in multinational firms and their supply chains, the development and application of the ILO's international labour standards
  • Understand the growoth of corporate social responsibility and the structures and strategies of the global unions.

Academic and graduate skills

  • You will develop skills in the questioning, evaluation and application of facts, figures and theory and develop your analytical and debating skills.

Other learning outcomes (if applicable)

  • Understand that work and employment are socially constructed, influenced by economic and political factors and historical legacies

Module content

The increasing globalization of the world economy suggests that employment relations practices may be becoming more similar or ‘converging’ across different countries regardless national borders.

This may be driven in part by various management practices, international institutions and economic policies, some of which may be driven by multinational enterprises (MNEs) and the policies of international financial institutions. However, there remains a continuing and substantial variation in employment relations practices in different countries. This is largely due to the fact employment relations are strongly embedded within different national societal arrangements reflecting different systems of law, histories and political ideologies which produce a variety of institutions, attitudes and custom and practices in different countries. This module provides a critical analysis of these factors on three levels.

Firstly, we compare and contrast the variations in employment relations at the national level, why such variations occur and their implications for managers, employees and society in general.

Secondly, we consider the influence of regional institutions such as the European Union and its implications for employment
relations practices within its member states.

Thirdly, the module examines employment relations at the international level: examining the role played by the international financial institutions; the challenge that MNEs and other forms of global capital pose for employees and trade unions; developments within the International Labour Organization and its international labour standards and the growth of private self-regulatory initiatives of MNEs such as corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate codes etc.

The module also considers the responses of the global trade union movement (international union organizations) and other advocacy groups. The module is broad in scope and outlook and draws on concepts and theories from employment relations, the law, political economy and human resource management. The course is a final year programme in which both theoretical concepts and real life events are analysed and questioned in a critical yet lively and engaging manner.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on their formative essay and on their summative assessment. Students will also receive oral feedback. Feedback on the essays will be provided within a few weeks of the submission.

Indicative reading

Frege and Kelly (eds.) (2020) Comparative Employment Relations in the Global Economy

Barry and Wilkinson (2011) Research Handbook of Comparative Employment Relations;

Bamber, Cooke, Doellgast Wright (2021) International and Comparative Employment Relations

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.