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Globalisation in Ireland

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There has been a continual debate between the ‘globalists’ and ‘sceptics’ as to what extent national actors determine the employment relations and work policies. Throughout this essay I will look at how capital, labour and the state have played a part in moulding Ireland’s employment relations model in recent decades and whether or not I favour the ‘globalists’ or ‘sceptics’ view on just how great there influence has been . Firstly I need to establish what globalisation is. Globalisation connotes the stretching and intensification of social, economic and political relations across continents (Held et all, 1999).

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Capital is the first actor which I am going to look at. In the early 1950s Ireland was a closed economy. However from the late 1950’s on it slowly began to open up. By the 1960’s 25% of national output was being exported (O’Toole, 2003), which although still comparatively low it showed that the Irish economy was changing. The effects of the economy opening up led to a major change in the employment sectors.

In 1960, 37 per cent of all Irish jobs were in the farming, fishing and forestry sector.

By 1987 the numbers had drastically reduced to just 14% (O’Toole, 2003). The effect of globalisation on Ireland continued to become more and more evident. In 1990 Ireland had a trade surplus of €2372 million by 2000 this had grown to €27,980 million (O’Toole, 2003). Globalisation didn’t just affect our trade but also led to a growing number of MNC’s in Ireland. In 2002, 585 American businesses were operating in Ireland (O’Toole, 2003) and by 2009 MNC’s accounted for 9. 5% of employment in the private sector (Dobbins, 2009).

The high number of MNC’s operating in Ireland coupled with increased dependency on exports cannot be ignored when arguing if the national actors determine the employment relations and work policies here, as quite evidently they do. Labour is the next actor which I am going to examine. Unquestionably globalisation has shaped Ireland’s employment relations model in this regard. This is very clearly highlighted by the drastic drop in trade union density, which has fallen from 62% in 1980 to just 31% in 2007(McDonough 2010). This can be linked to the development of an America style labour relations model in many companies.

However within Ireland the effects of globalisation on labour have been limited to a degree due to the development of the social partnership agreements which led to a number of wage restrictions being implemented, however income doubled over the Celtic Tiger period but due to the agreements in place this only applied to the higher end of the income distribution. The last national actor is the state. The Irish government has been greatly influenced by the growth of globalization. A key factor in determining this was our willingness to follow the U. K. into the EEC (now E.

U. ) which since we joined in the 1950’s has continued to become more and more of an influencing factor on our state, eroding national systems. You must also note the state’s eagerness to attract FDI, with its early efforts leading to what is now Enterprise Ireland. In 1989 FDI rose by 700% by 1986 it was four times the size, by 2002 it had reached €30 billion (McDonough, 2010). It is very apparent that the state has been more than willing to accept globalisation and it has been more than happy to let its effects shape our employment relations model.

In conclusion I strongly side with the globalists and believe that the national actors heavily shape our employment relations model and work policies. My final case against the sceptics’ view that the national actors have not shaped Ireland’s employment relations model is that in the globalisation index 2010, Ernst and Young with the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Ireland the second most globalised country, so surely globalisation must have had some effect on Ireland.


Dobbins, T. (2009) Ireland: Multinational companies and collective bargaining, Eurofound. Held, D. , McGrew, A. , Goldblatt, D. , Perraton, J. (1999) Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, and Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press. McDonough, T. (2010) The Irish Crash in Global Context, Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway O’Toole, F. (2003): After the Ball. Chapter 1: GLOBAL IRELAND

Cite this Globalisation in Ireland

Globalisation in Ireland. (2017, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/globalisation-in-ireland/

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