Date of Award

4-1983

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Supervisor

R. A. Rempel

Language

English

Abstract

Industrial co-partnership schemes have, in the British context, been previously presented in two ways. On the one hand, co-partnership has been regarded as a labour policy practised by a significant minority of Victorian employers. This body of opinion also maintains that the policy did not attract the attention of government, indeed, it remained a purely extra-parliamentary issue. In contrast, co-partnership has also been interpreted as the product of enlightened government planning -- a novel element of the reconstruction plans laid-down during the Great War. The primary concern of the present study if to demonstrate that co-partnership aroused considerable interest in parliamentary and government circles in the immediate pre-war period.

The identification of a significant degree of official pre-war interest in co-partnership will, it is hoped, be of value in relation to at least two areas of research. Firstly the present study sheds some much-needed light on a crucial turning point in the relationship between government and industry. In 1911, owing to a serious breakdown in industrial relations, the Liberal government, contrary to established practice, acknowledged that they had a duty to initiate appropriate counter-measures. The few studies of the period which make note of this important departure concentrate -- normally to the exclusion of any other official responses to the labour problem -- on the setting-up of the Industrial Council as an experimental high court of industrial relations. Other measures were, however, seriously investigated by the Government, and their implementation given careful consideration; one such measure was industrial co-partnership.

Secondly, the present study puts forward a number of important amendments to the conclusions of previous research into co-partnership. Any comprehensive investigation of co-partnership as a parliamentary issue or as government policy must, it is clear, take the period 1905- 1914 for its starting point and not, as was previously maintained, 1916 and the start of reqonstruction planning. Furthermore, official interest in co-partnership and the introduction of schemes in private industry were not, as previous research implied, independent developments; the experience of co-partnership employers lay at the root of interest in Whitehall and at Westminster.

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