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Promises Kept, Promises Broken: Reciprocity and the Scanlon Plan

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 1 May 1991



Productivity gainsharing plans may well experience a resurgence as firms attempt to meet the competitive challenges posed by the new global marketplace. This qualitative ethnographic research investigates the particular problems one US firm experienced when it implemented a Scanlon productivity gainsharing plan. It is argued that such plans should not be treated as simple quid pro quos for collective bargaining concessions because they necessarily pose significant impediments to the maintenance of the status quo. Successful implementation requires both a sound programme structure, especially concerning the bonus formula, and a change in the organisation′s culture whereby all employees are able to participate meaningfully in the decision‐making process.



Thornicroft, K.W. (1991), "Promises Kept, Promises Broken: Reciprocity and the Scanlon Plan", Employee Relations, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 12-21.




Copyright © 1991, MCB UP Limited

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