Senior managers in multi‐plant companies are faced by a dilemma: how can they control Industrial Relations centrally, but at the same time allow scope for flexibility? One way of solving this problem is to permit negotiations to take place in the plants, but to regulate this bargaining in some way from a central Personnel department. Why do companies feel obliged to intervene in the affairs of plants in this way? How is this intervention carried out in practice? Is it, for example, through agreements common to all plants, or through loosely worded guidelines from company level?
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