Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Emeritus Professor Joseph Ezra Isaac: Pioneer Scholar and Practitioner in Industrial Relations

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2013), 104, (1), 211–220.


This research note celebrates Joe Isaac’s 90thyear by outlining some of the highlights in his extensive career and exploring the interface between his roles as a prominent scholar and an arbitrator. Joe Isaac has been one of the most influential contributors to both academic scholarship and public policy in Australian industrial relations during the past 60 years. In the words of Keith Hancock “despite [Joe’s] modesty and unassuming demeanour, he has been among the most effective and influential of Australian thinkers.” In fact, along with Hancock, his former student, Joe Isaac is one of a select number of academics who have succeeded in influencing both theory and practice in the fields of labour economics and industrial relations not only in Australia but also at the international level.

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1.Keith Hancock, “Joe Isaac,” Journal of Industrial Relations 40, no. 4(December1998):506–7. Google Scholar

2.Joe E. Isaac, The Insurance Enquiries and Complaints Ltd: The First Ten Years(:IEC, 2001). Google Scholar

3.Joe E. Isaac, The Structure of Unskilled Wages in Papua and New Guinea, (:Department of External Territories, 1969). Google Scholar

4.Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Labour Market Flexibility: Report by a High Level Group of Experts to the Secretary General(:OECD, 1986). Google Scholar

5.Hancock, “Joe Isaac,” 506. Google Scholar

6.Joe E. Isaac, “The Macmahon Ball Mission, November 1945,”inJ. W. Legge, ed., New Directions in Foreign Policy, Australia and Indonesia 1945-50(:Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1996). Google Scholar

8.Ibid.. Google Scholar

9.Ibid.. Google Scholar

11.Keith Hancock, “Compulsory Arbitration versus Collective Bargaining: Three Recent Assessments,” Journal of Industrial Relations 4, no. 1(April1962):20–31. Google Scholar

12.Joe E. Isaac, “Reflections on Australian Industrial Relations,”(paper presented at the Industrial Relations Society of Victoria Conference, August 1964). Google Scholar

13.Joe E. Isaac, “The Arbitration Commission: Prime Mover or Facilitator?” Journal of Industrial Relations 31, no. 3(September1989):418. Google Scholar

15.Diane Yerbury and Joe E. Isaac, “Recent Trends in Collective Bargaining in Australia,” International Labour Review 103(1971):421–52. Google Scholar

17.“Question - Conciliation and Arbitration Commission”, Senate Official Hansardno. 45 (November 7, 1973):1569–1571. Google Scholar

19.Joe E. Isaac, “The Prospects for Collective Bargaining in Australia,” Economic Record 34, no. 69(December1958):347–61. Google Scholar

20.Interview with Joe E. Isaac, 16 February2012. Google Scholar

21.Joe E. Isaac, “Economics and Industrial Relations,” Journal of Industrial Relations 24, no. 4(December1982):499–500. Google Scholar

23.Joe E. Isaac, “Australian Labour Market Issues: An Historical Perspective,” Journal of Industrial Relations 40, no. 4(December1998):704. Google Scholar

24.Isaac, “The Arbitration Commission,” 408, 423. Google Scholar

25.Joe E. Isaac, Small Business and Industrial Relations: Some Policy Initiatives, Research Series, no. 8 (:Department of Industrial Relations, 1993). Google Scholar

26.Ibid.See alsoJoe E. Isaac, “Reforming Australian Industrial Relations? The 21stFoenander Lecture, 28 August 2006,” Journal of Industrial Relations 49, no. 3(June2007):416. Google Scholar

28.Joe E. Isaac and Russell D. Lansbury, eds, Labour Market Deregulation: Rewriting the Rules(:Federation Press, 2005). Google Scholar

29.Joe E. Isaac, “Performance Related Pay: The Importance of Fairness,” Journal of Industrial Relations 43, no. 2(June2001):111–23. Google Scholar

30.Isaac, “Reforming Australian Industrial Relations?” 423–24. Google Scholar

31.Ibid., 427. Google Scholar

33.Joe E. Isaac, “Reflections on IR over the Last 50 Years”(paper presented at the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference, Sydney, February 9-11, 2005). Google Scholar

34.Joe E. Isaac, “Lawyers and Industrial Relations: A Post Script”(paper presented at the Australian Lawyers and Social Change Conference, Canberra, February 22-24, 2004). Google Scholar

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Author details

Lansbury, Russell D.

Wright, Chris F.