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American multinationals and british trade unions, c.1945-1974

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alan McKinlay


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In the period 1945-1970 Scotland received the greatest inflow of American direct investment in the world, outside Canada. The presence of American multinational companies was welcomed by both the local and the national state as providing examples of best business practice in production methods and in the deployment of labour. All of these incoming firms were anti- union in principle, but in practice they enjoyed little success in eliminating craft sensibilities or union loyalties. There was no wholesale corporate colonization of workers' language or identities. This has often been seen as a result of official trade unionism's success in manipulating labour shortages, labour process structures and bonus systems. By utilizing factory records, which show the day-to-day reality of industrial relations in US firms, we argue that recognition of trade unionism and collective bargaining owed as much, if not more, to grassroots pressure. This in time became the vital factor in shaping the domestication of American multinationals' labour practices.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Knox W, McKinlay A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Labor History

Year: 2010

Volume: 51

Issue: 2

Pages: 211-229

Print publication date: 27/05/2010

ISSN (print): 0023-656X

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9702

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00236561003729651


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