Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, 2017: Shifts in Workplace Voice, Justice, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Contemporary Workplaces: Volume 24

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

Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Workarounds represent informal modifications to rules and procedures that individuals will engage into navigate around a process block in order to make their job easier. Although workarounds have been primarily studied from an individual-level perspective, this chapter argues that workarounds are a socially constructed, multilevel phenomenon, meaning that they are influenced by others (e.g., group norms and coworkers) and can result in the emergence of workaround climates. We find empirical support for the view that workarounds are shaped by a variety of social influences. Moreover, based on an inductive exploratory study, we suggest that workarounds are related to informal training and troubleshooting behaviors. We conclude by outlining several theory-based directions for understanding how workarounds spread throughout all levels of an organization as an incubator for future research.


There has been considerable research into different approaches to workplace dispute resolution in the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), and to a lesser extent other English-speaking countries. This chapter considers what guidance this research can provide into the practical implications of these different approaches.

One frame of reference for evaluating different approaches to workplace dispute resolution is provided by Budd’s three objectives of the employment relationship: equity, voice and efficiency.

While dispute resolution procedures can contribute to all three objectives, there can be negative consequences for employees who make use of formal workplace dispute resolution procedures. It is desirable that workplace disputes be resolved quickly and informally.

Such an approach places considerable weight on the skills of line managers. Unfortunately, there is evidence of a preference among line managers to replace pragmatic approaches to conflict resolution with a rigid adherence to process and procedure. This is partly due to a lack of skills, but is often compounded by inadequate support from senior management.

While it is important for organisations to have formal workplace dispute resolution procedures, the focus should be on line managers. The role of human resources staff and senior management should primarily be to monitor the dispute resolution system, ensure that it is operating effectively and deal with any emerging issues. They should ensure appropriate training is in place and provide appropriate support to line managers. Only when line managers have failed to resolve disputes should they become directly involved.


The chapter provides a case study of the strategic-level employee involvement (EI) program at a high-performance company, Delta Air Lines. EI at Delta – probably the most extensive in breadth, depth, and representational structure for nonunion workers at an American company – extends from shop floor to board room. Attention here is on the board component: a group of five peer-selected employees called the Delta Board Council (DBC) which has a nonvoting seat on the board of directors and participates in a wide range of strategic decisions and roles. The chapter discusses why this kind of representational EI group, although widespread up to the 1930s, is now quite rare in the United States. The main part of the chapter focuses on the structure, purpose, and accomplishments of the DBC, presented through a question and answer (Q&A) interview with a founding DBC member. Provided are numerous EI “lessons-learned” and “do’s” and “don’ts” for managers.


The purpose of this chapter is to examine voice as an empowerment practice in a manufacturing company. The case study follows a qualitative approach to analyse employee voice and types of empowerment from a structural perspective. Findings suggest a variety of voice arrangements to empowering employees such as voice surveys, meetings, e-suggestions, opinion boxes and informal means such as casual meetings and walkarounds. In addition, employee voice is linked to types of empowerment such as information sharing, upward problem solving, task autonomy and attitudinal shaping. Further research would benefit from an exploration of employees’ feelings regarding voice mechanisms to examine the psychological perspective of empowerment.


The purpose of this chapter is to develop a model of union reform that may help to revitalize the labor movement. Our model presents a path using democracy and militancy to overcome union oligarchy to build stronger unions and a stronger broader movement. We develop a new model of union revitalization by expanding the Voss and Sherman (2000) model from our own experiences and a review of past union revitalization efforts. Democratic and militant strategies are a key to successful reform efforts. Entrenched union leaders tend to oppose such efforts. Reformers must adequately overcome entrenched leader responses to succeed in reforming their unions. We have developed a new conceptual model of union revitalization. Our model should be tested further through in-depth case studies and analysis of reform efforts which have failed or succeeded. Our model presents strategies and tactics for labor activists to revitalize their unions and the labor movement. We present a new model of union revitalization that looks at both internal and external union revitalization. This chapter accumulates evidence across reform efforts throughout the modern history of unions. This comparative and contrasting analysis of the evidence from these efforts is a unique contribution to the field. Further, the resulting model from this review presents a unique focus on the strategies and tactics of reform efforts as well as the interaction between union reform efforts and entrenched leaders. This model provides a path for both future research and practical revitalization efforts.


This chapter reports the results of a 20-year longitudinal study of how American unions have adapted their internal administrative practices to meet the significant external challenges they face. In previous scholarly work, researchers have reported that the administrative practices of American unions were far more informal, ad hoc, and political than those of business, government, and other nonprofit organizations. The authors’ 2010 survey asked US-based national and international unions to provide data concerning their internal administrative practices. The results were compared with findings from similar surveys conducted in 1990 and 2000. The results of these surveys indicate a steady increase in unions’ adoption of more formal personnel policies, budget practices, strategic planning processes, and efforts to evaluate planned activities over the 20-year period studied. They also indicate that unions increasingly recruit individuals meeting college, technical, and professional qualifications. Taken together, the results suggest a recognition on the part of many unions that adapting their internal administrative practices to the new realities they face is a fundamental and a necessary part of any effort at organizational renewal.


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.


Guided by social exchange theory and signaling theory, this chapter investigates the relationship between individual perceptions of high-performance work systems (HPWS), union instrumentality, and employees’ turnover intention. The results obtained from a multilevel and multisource sample of more than 1,300 employees in 37 multinational corporation based in China show that, in contrast to our hypothesis, union instrumentality is not directly related to turnover intention; rather, the results from the post hoc mediation analysis show that union instrumentality is indirectly and negatively related to turnover intention through affective organizational commitment. Consistent with our hypothesis, the results of our analysis show that union instrumentality serves as an important contingent factor in the relationship between HPWS and employee turnover intention. The relationship between HPWS and turnover intention becomes positive when employee union instrumentality is low.

Cover of Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, 2017: Shifts in Workplace Voice, Justice, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in Contemporary Workplaces
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Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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