1981 U. Ill. L. Rev. 161 (1981)
Empirical Research on Labor Law: Lessons from Dispute Resolution in the Public Sector

handle is hein.journals/unilllr1981 and id is 167 raw text is: EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ON LABOR
Thomas A. Kochan *
This article discusses the potential contributions and limitations of
empirical research techniques for the development and evaluation of
labor law by drawing from research on a specific labor policy issue, the
case of dispute resolution in public sector collective bargaining. For
the past twenty years, public sector collective bargaining has been one
of the most dynamic areas of the American labor policy. The appropri-
ate role of the strike and alternative dispute resolution systems involv-
ing such procedures as mediation, factfinding, and various forms of
interest arbitration, constitutes the central and most controversial issue
in this area.I Consequently, a wide range of studies have addressed this
issue and offered policy recommendations based on research findings
and conclusions. State officials directly responsible for the enactment
and administration of these laws and procedures either requested or
cooperated with much of the research.2
This work thus offers an ideal sample for illustrating the relation-
ship between empirical research and the development of labor policy,
and for generating a set of broader principles that, if followed, might
strengthen the link between empirical research and public policy devel-
opment. The record in this area also illustrates the limits of using em-
pirical research to guide public policy decisionmaking and thus helps to
place research in its proper perspective within the larger political and
legal processes that shape labor law.
* Professor of Industrial Relations, Sloan School ofManagement, Massachusetts Institute of
Technology. B.B.A. 1969, M.S. 1971, Ph.D. 1973, University of Wisconsit
1. For early statements of the importance of these issues see Stieber, Collective Bargaining in
the Public Sector, in CHALLENGES TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING 79-84 (L. Ulman ed. 1967);
Kheel, Strikes and Public Employment, 67 MICH. L. REV. 931-42 (1969).
2. For a review of these studies up through 1975 see R. JONES, PUBLIC SECTOR LABOR
Science Foundation, Division of Social Systems and Human Resources 1975). For a more recent
review of these studies see Kochan, Dynamics of Dispute Resolution in the Public Sector, in PuB-
LIC-SECTOR BARGAINING 150-90 (B. Aaron, J. Grodin & J. Stern eds. 1979) [hereinafter cited as
Dynamics of Dispute Resolution].

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