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Trade union research and cross-national comparison

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This article is concerned with problems of comparative research and analysis in industrial relations, and in particular with cross-national comparison of trade unions. Comparison is of both practical and theoretical importance, but is fraught with difficulties, in part because of the paradox involved in attempting to generalise concerning national instances which are in so many respects unique. The author considers three different approaches to analysis, in terms respectively of institutions, functions and issues. In conclusion the article emphasises the iterative nature of research and analysis and insists that even if the goal of satisfactory cross-national comparison may be unattainable, its pursuit is both necessary and valuable.

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