The Paradox In Partnership: The Role of Conflict in Partnership Building

Balancing Power - The Give and Take of Tripartism in Transition Economies

Author(s): Anne Inga Hilsen

Pp: 24-35 (12)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805211011101010024

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Using the examples of China, Armenia and Tajikistan, this text will discuss the challenge of transition from a Communist planned economy to a market economy (or, in the case of China, a socialist market economy). Tripartism and the social dialogue (the formal dialogue between government, business and labor) are democratic tools to make this transition possible. Tripartism can be seen as a political and pragmatic approach to developing new industrial relations based on mutual balanced interests, rather than opposition or cooptation.

I will support this claim with data from evaluations of supported development projects in these three countries. The objectives of these projects were democratization of work life and the support of building a sustainable work life.

Tripartism is a type of partnership, or alliance, in work life. The alliance is designed to promote collaboration between the social partners, nationally and at the work place level. Instead of only envisioning labor relations as a continuous engagement with competitive orientation, power struggles and conflict, it can also be seen as a balancing of power, where each partner gives something in order to gain something. This is its greatest strength and may well be the root of its ability to transcend political, economic, cultural and historical differences, as demonstrated by the cases of the transition economies of China, Armenia and Tajikistan.

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