Robert McKersie

The Work Goes On

Robert McKersie on his lifelong study of labor negotiations and the state of unions today


Robert McKersie, Professor of Management Emeritus at MIT's Sloan School of Management,  joins the podcast to talk to Princeton’s Orley Ashenfelter about his path from being the son of an  International Workers of the World (IWW) member in Paterson, NJ to becoming one of the leading global experts on labor negotiations.

In this episode, McKersie and Ashenfelter discuss:

  • McKersie’s early academic career at the University of Chicago, where he worked with George Shultz, Joel Seidman, Al Rees, and Gregg Lewis.
  • McKersie’s perspective on the recent railway workers labor negotiations.
  • McKersie’s role in helping negotiate an agreement to end the culinary workers strike at Harvard in 2016.
  • The importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and how it compares to the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
  • McKersie’s latest book, “A Field in Flux.”

McKersie earned an MBA and a DBA from Harvard Business School in 1959. "The Work Goes On"—a podcast produced as Princeton's Industrial Relations Section (IR Section) celebrates its 100th anniversary—is an oral history of industrial relations and labor economics hosted by Princeton's Orley Ashenfelter.



McKersie, Robert B. “A Field in Flux: Sixty Years of Industrial Relations.” Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019.

McKersie, Robert B. “A Decisive Decade: An Insider's View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement During the 1960s.” Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2013.

Kochan, Thomas A., Adrienne E. Eaton, and Robert B. McKersie. “Healing Together: The Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente.” Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013