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Pro-Social and Self-Interest Motivations for Unionism and Implications for Unions as Institutions

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, 2017: Shifts in Workplace Voice, Justice, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Contemporary Workplaces

ISBN: 978-1-78743-486-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-485-1

ISSN: 0742-6186

Publication date: 2 February 2018

Abstract

The question of why workers support unions is one of the most fundamental in employment relations. Using Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior we conduct a selective review of literature and evidence on union voting, joining, and participation. We focus primarily on the question of motivation as stemming from self-interest or from pro-social considerations. Secondary attention is given to the influence of others’ views (subjective norms) and worker perceptions that they can achieve desired behaviors (perceived control or self-efficacy). We find support for the notion that workers are concerned with neither member self-interest (“just us”) alone, nor pro-social (“justice”) alone, but rather that they are motivated to form, join, and participate by both considerations. This micro-foundation for considering unions as institutions suggests that unions are neither narrow self-interested institutions nor purely pro-social movements, but “a little bit of both.” We offer propositions and consider implications for theory, practice, and future research.

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Richard Hurd and Bruce Kaufman for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter. We also owe a debt for useful feedback to participants in a session at the 2014 and 2017 Labor and Employment Relations Association meetings (Portland, OR and Anaheim, CA, respectively), at a 2014 workshop at Penn State University’s School of Labor and Employment Relations, and at a session at the 2015 Academy of Management (Vancouver, BC).

Citation

Fiorito, J., Padavic, I. and Russell, Z.A. (2018), "Pro-Social and Self-Interest Motivations for Unionism and Implications for Unions as Institutions", Lewin, D. and Gollan, P.J. (Ed.) Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, 2017: Shifts in Workplace Voice, Justice, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Contemporary Workplaces (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 185-211. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0742-618620180000024009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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