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Attaining agreement: a rhetorical analysis of an NHS negotiation

Peter M. Hamilton (University of Durham Business School, Durham, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



The paper is centred through an examination of a short piece of recorded talk between managers and shop stewards within a UK National Health Service (NHS) Trust, relating to the manner in which one of the shop stewards attempted to get the managers to accede to a request he made for changes to the wording of a section of the Trust’s disciplinary procedure. In examining this piece of talk, the paper first contextualises the Trust through the decentralisation process of the early 1990s. The decentralisation process clearly did not introduce formal negotiation into NHS units, but instead increased the scope of formal negotiation encounters. The paper argues that there was an increased importance for persuasion as the need to gain others’ assent on industrial relations matters at the local level was significantly increased. The paper analyses the dynamics of one particular negotiating encounter between two managers and two shop stewards. In analysing this, the paper focuses through rhetoric. In coming through a rhetorical framework, the paper highlights the need for managers, when negotiating, to be alert to the implied elements of the arguments of those across the negotiating table. Concludes by also understanding the rhetoric of the encounter in the light of the marketisation of the NHS during the 1990s.



Hamilton, P.M. (2000), "Attaining agreement: a rhetorical analysis of an NHS negotiation", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 285-300.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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