Lost in Translation: Language and Cross-National Comparison in Industrial Relations

TitleLost in Translation: Language and Cross-National Comparison in Industrial Relations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsManzella, Pietro
JournalE-Journal of International Comparative Labour Studies
Date Published2015///
Keywordscomparative perspective, comparative research, cross-national comparison, cultural differences, culture, industrial relations, language

[Excerpt] Comparative research is universally regarded as a fascinating but challenging task, among others because of the relevance of the national differences stemming from distinct historical, economic, legal and cultural developments. Affording a comparative perspective might serve to identify a certain degree of correspondence among practices and processes in place in different contexts and to assess their effectiveness, particularly considering their applicability elsewhere, away from the original legal framework. Yet when engaging in comparative analysis, consideration ought to be given to those institutional changes in societies that are peculiar to each legal system. In so doing, many problems arise in terms of equivalence, as a number of authors have pointed out. Kahn-Freund has posited that the variations in the organisation of power among different countries can prevent and even frustrate the transfer of legal institutions, thus affecting the effectiveness of comparison. This is because “even in very similar societies, the role played by law may be very different, owing to the tempo and the sequence of economic and political history”.