Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

The Left Orientation of Industrial Relations

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Abstract

I show that the field known as industrial relations (IR) leans overwhelmingly to the political left. I investigate the voter registration and political contributions of IR researchers, showing overwhelming Democratic Party favor. I construct a data set of participants in the IR field, which contains 920 U.S.-based person-roles (deriving from 709 actual persons). Included are the authors of the 539 research articles published in four periodicals 2009–2013: (1) the annual meeting proceedings volume of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), (2) Industrial and Labor Relations Review, (3) Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, and (4) the Journal of Labor Research. I also include the editors of the periodicals, the officers of LERA, and a sample of LERA’s ordinary members. The data suggests that the ratio of Democratic-to-Republican voter registration among participants in IR is roughly 10 to one. I find a similar ratio when looking at those who have made contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates for office. I also show that Democratic lopsidedness at the three mainstream IR journals becomes more extreme at the higher stations (officers and editors, as opposed to ordinary members and authors). Also, I analyze the content of the 539 articles for union support and regulation support; the mainstream IR journals are overwhelmingly pro-union and pro-regulation.