Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations: Volume 16

Subject:

Table of contents

(13 chapters)
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List of Contributors

Pages vii-viii
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Introduction

Pages ix-x
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Volume 16 of Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations (AILR) contains eight papers that deal with important and interesting aspects of industrial and labor relations. These include alternative approaches to establishing an ownership culture, accounting for union collective action through resource acquisition and mobilization, union avoidance through double breasting, labor–management partnership and mutual gains, high-involvement work systems and union–management communication networks, a new paradigm for IR/HR theory and research, implications for women of private pension reform, and competing ethical conceptions of the minimum wage. Two of these papers, by Rubinstein and Eaton and by Hermes, were originally presented in the “Best Papers” session at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA, 2008).1 Three other papers, by Dunford, Schleicher, and Zhu; Willman and Bryson; and Badigannavar, were originally presented in the “Best Papers” session at the 59th Annual Meeting of the LERA (2007).2

This study used dominance analysis to examine the relative importance of psychological versus pecuniary approaches to the development of employee ownership attitudes and behaviors. In a sample of 409 non-unionized employees from a commercial real estate firm, we found that perceptions of information and control (i.e., psychological ownership) had a much stronger impact on ownership-related outcomes than did voluntary investment in company stock (i.e., pecuniary ownership), as hypothesized. These findings are consistent with the predictions of the employee ownership literature, suggesting that ownership culture initiatives should be directed at increasing employees’ perceptions of information and control.

This paper uses two data sources to map trends in resource availability for trade unions in Britain. Union resources exist, on the one hand, in the form of subscription income and accumulated assets shown in union accounts and, on the other, establishment level resources secured from employers and union members. The paper documents a substantial decline in both the forms of union resource across the period 1990–2004 and attempts to explain both the reasons for this decline and its consequences for employee representation in Britain.

This paper examines the use of “double breasting” as a means of union avoidance among multinational companies (MNCs). Double breasting refers to the practice whereby multi-establishment organizations simultaneously operate establishments on both union and non-union bases. Using survey data from the largest and most representative empirical investigation of employment practice in MNCs in Ireland, supplemented by qualitative data gathered from case-based investigations in the subsidiary operations of American-owned MNCs, we profile the incidence and pattern of this particular form of union avoidance as well as providing insights on management's rationale for so doing. Our findings suggest that a substantial and increasing number of unionized MNCs in Ireland are engaging in double breasting. This phenomenon is most evident among U.S. MNCs. We also find that employers, at both local and global levels, have proactively initiated double breasting as a strategic ploy to increase management prerogative and better position subsidiary operations to attract new investment from corporate levels.

In Britain, labor−management partnership has been the fulcrum of the Labor Government's employment relations programme since its election in 1997. The Involvement and Participation Association (IPA, 1997; website: http://www.partnership-at-work.com) − the influential employers’ organization − has been at the forefront of promoting labor−management partnership to improve productivity in UK firms through greater employee involvement and participation (see http://www.partnership-at-work.com). The Trades Union Congress (TUC; partnership institute website: http://www.partnership-institute.org.uk) and several of its constituent unions have also endorsed partnership with employers as a route to promote employee ‘voice’ at work, secure better bargaining outcomes and improve union membership levels and density (Undy, 2001). Union density in the UK private sector has declined from 19.9 per cent in autumn 1997 to 17.2 per cent in autumn 2005, while in the public sector it has declined from 60.9 per cent to 58.6 per cent over the same period of time (Grainger, 2006). Advocates of partnership argue that such arrangements deliver mutual gains to the parties involved, viz. higher productivity and profits for employers, better wages and higher employment security to workers and greater influence over management decisions for unions, which in turn help them to attract and recruit new members (e.g. Haynes & Allen, 2001; Deery & Iverson, 2005).

The authors link High-Involvement Work Systems (HIWS) with social network research both theoretically and methodologically by conceiving of these work systems as networks and by using network methods to better understand and evaluate these arrangements. Their approach is to integrate the institutional perspective of industrial relations with the analytical methodology of social network analysis. They use a longitudinal data set collected before and after the introduction of an HIWS in a pharmaceutical company to measure the impact on patterns of employee communication as well as communication between the union and management. Improvements were found in customer satisfaction, and positive effects were seen in the pattern and structure of organizational communication with an increase in the density of lateral and vertical interdepartmental communication, and a decrease in hierarchy. These results were confirmed using survey data on employee perceptions of particular types of communication and interviews with employees at various levels of authority.

This new, dynamic, value-free universal paradigm supplies new concepts for the explanation of all HR/IR phenomena as products of the interaction of impersonal environmental forces with the direct and indirect stakeholders’ relevant characteristics, preferences, and expedients. It supplies new concepts for the inputs of the employee and the employer into their two-way employment interaction that brings about the productive and nonproductive utilization of the employee's human resources in an employment relationship. New concepts are also proposed for stakeholders’ decisions on action to defend and/or advance their preferences and/or expedients. The paradigm recognizes that such action always takes place in formal/informal influence channels leading to formal/informal decision arenas. It analyzes the possible outcomes of the interacting forces. The feedback of such outcomes to the stakeholders and their environments thus produces a continuous flow of HR/IR phenomena that remains constant unless the strength and/or composition of the forces change. Diagrams illustrate these new concepts and a practical example showing how their use improves research and theory.

Using UK survey data on labour force participation and earnings and a model developed by the Department for Work and Pensions, I describe the unique challenges women face in accruing private pension benefits and simulate likely outcomes for women under the Government's proposed system of personal accounts. Projections of savings in personal accounts for male and female full-time median earners with the same work histories reveal that women would have about 27 per cent less savings available for retirement due to their lower earnings. This gap would grow, to 31 per cent, upon annuititization because single-sex annuity rates are used. Additional modifications that take into account typical work patterns of women, such as extended periods of part-time work, further reduce the savings they would accumulate in personal accounts. Several key policy provisions could improve outcomes for women including allowing spousal contributions and requiring joint-life or unisex annuities.

The neoclassical ethos is predicated on a goal of efficiency, which is assumed to be advanced through competitive markets where market-clearing wages are achieved when the demand for labor is exactly equal to the supply of labor. In such a market, there is no such thing as unemployment because wages either rise or fall until the demand for labor is exactly equal to the supply of labor. At the wage at which demand equals supply, all those willing and able to work at that wage will be employed. If more people are willing to work, the wage will fall further, thereby inducing firms to hire more workers, with the result being that the supply of labor once again equals the demand. Conversely, when firms are unable to hire as many workers as they would like, the wage rises to induce additional people to enter into the workforce until supply and demand are once again equal.

DOI
10.1108/S0742-6186(2009)16
Publication date
Book series
Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-84855-397-2
eISBN
978-1-84855-397-2
Book series ISSN
0742-6186