Contributes to the social partnership debate by exploring ways in which inter and intra‐union relations influence the development of partnership within a National Health Service Trust, by using observation techniques, focus groups and semi‐structured interviews involving ancillary workgroup members, shop stewards and managers (conducted in 1998). Argues, on an empirical basis, that union relationships may both facilitate and constrain management decision making and, ultimately, the implementation of policy. Views, conceptually, the parties’ understanding of partnership as changing over time, within a context that is contradictory; with management, trade union representatives and employees developing competing perspectives on “social partnership”, in part as a response to, and in turn recreating, a pluralistic workplace environment.
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