Log in to access the full article.
This article reviews recent trends in the historiography of British industrial relations, and highlights a growing emphasis on the influence of employers and impersonal economic forces. In response, the article argues for a renewed recognition of trade unions as a proactive force in the development of industrial relations systems. This view is supported by analysis of the influence of market and institutional forces upon the spread of national collective bargaining. The conclusion is that commercial pressures on employers were relatively unimportant in a process driven by human agency, institutional forces, and wider economic pressures.