Book review of "Singapore Industrial Relations System" by Venkatraman Anantaraman, 1990, Singapore Institute of Management and McGraw-Hill, Singapore

Leggett, Chris (1990) Book review of "Singapore Industrial Relations System" by Venkatraman Anantaraman, 1990, Singapore Institute of Management and McGraw-Hill, Singapore. Labour and Industry, 3 (1). pp. 162-164.

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[Extract] Singapore Industrial Relations System is organized into twelve chapters. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 and concerned with theories. Chapter 1, 'Perspectives of Industrial Relations', amounts to a summary of the early part of a British students' text, Farnham and Pimlott's Understanding Industrial Relations, and Chapter 2, 'The Convergence Thesis', summarizes Industrial and Industrial Man by Kerr et al. Although there are attempts to evaluate the theories, they are not taken far and they do not make it clear how the relate to Singapore. One might have hoped for something from convergence thesis in this respect because of the importance of Singapore's industrializing elite in determining the formal pattern of industrial relations, but there is no attempt to discuss Singapore's divergence from, say, Hong Kong as an industrial society in terms of the importance of nationalist leaders and colonial administrators. Accepting that Professor Anantaraman has not set out to write a comparative study, he does, however, introduce the reader to universalistic theories to make sense of which requires explanation of both Singapore's relatedness to, and uniqueness among, the Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs) of Southeast and East Asia, Following, in Chapter 5, a brief political history of post-World War II Singapore, Chapter 6, 'The Ideology of the Singapore Political System', which consists of a treatise on state corporatism, comes closest to explaining objectively the thinking of Singapore's political elite, but is contaminated by the author's apparent bias in favour of state corporatism. For example, in discussing the PAP's concern with the country's leadership succession, Professor Anantaraman writes: 'If [Prime Minister] Lee is not able to plan and execute the succession to pave the way for this future ['the continuity and culmination of state corporatism'], one may speculate on the basis of Latin American experience that Singapore, after him, may degenerate (reviewer's emphasis) into a liberal democracy of the Westminster or Washington model' (sic). Among the endnotes to Chapter 6, Professor Anantaraman justifies his preference for 'state corporatism' to Frederick Deyo's 'authoritarian corporatism' as a label for the ideology of Singapore's political elite because, 'beyond the transitional stages of its development, state corporatism is not authoritarian'. The explanation for this in a following endnote is beyond the comprehension of this reviewer and one wonders what Singaporean students and practitioners will make of it.

Item ID: 16300
Item Type: Article (Book Review)
ISSN: 1030-1763
Keywords: Singapore, industrial relations, system
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2011 23:57
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150306 Industrial Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910401 Industrial Relations @ 100%
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