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Organising methods and member recruitment in Irish trade unions

Thomas Turner (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Michelle O'Sullivan (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Daryl D'Art (Department of Personnel and Employment Relations, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 16 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to explore the recruiting and organising methods used by Irish full‐time union officials to recruit new members in the private sector of the economy.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is based on a survey of full‐time union officials in eight Irish trade unions.

Findings

Results indicate that the use of organising techniques by officials had no significant impact on changes in membership numbers but did have a significant and positive impact on reported changes in new members. However, the variance explained was extremely modest.

Research limitations/implications

A potential limitation is that the organising model is assessed solely from the perspective of full‐time union officials. An area for future research would be to capture the attitudes and experiences of local activists involved in organising.

Practical implications

The demands of the organising approach require great commitment in terms of time and financial resources for unions. Yet the returns from this investment may be slight as only a relatively weak relationship was found between the number of organising methods used and changes in membership numbers and the recruitment of new members.

Originality/value

To date there has been little systematic study of either the recruitment methods used by Irish trade unions or the relative success of different approaches. Based on a survey of Irish full‐time union officials, this paper attempts to address this lacuna.

Keywords

Citation

Turner, T., O'Sullivan, M. and D'Art, D. (2011), "Organising methods and member recruitment in Irish trade unions", Employee Relations, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 516-531. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451111153880

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited