Contemporary Developments in Emploment Relations

Activity 1
The employment relationship by its very nature is indeterminate, incomplete and, unlike other contractual agreements, has a future and a history. Sisson (2010) suggested it is a continuous relationship with both parties constantly attempting to exercise power and control over the other. Due to this dynamic, there are different theories relating to the managing of the relationship.
Fox’s seminal ‘frames of reference’ approach conceptualised the two theories of unitarism and pluralism (1966)(in Cradden 2011). The unitarist approach emphasises organisations as harmonious and integrated with employees sharing organisational goals and all parties working together as one team. Management are the single source of authority and as conflict is unnecessary and avoidable, there is no recognition of or requirement for trade union representation; the employment relationship is characterised by cooperation rather than conflict.
Conversely, the pluralist approach acknowledges that organisations consist of individuals and groups with different interests, values and objectives. It recognises that conflict between the groups will inevitably occur between employer and employees. Trade unions are commonplace with collective bargaining seen as the practical method to facilitate and negotiate order and stability, hence, reducing the conflict. Furthermore, the Marxist approach sees class conflict occur due to perceived inequalities of social class and wealth distribution.
Purcell and Ahlstrad (1993) (in Rollinson and Dundon 2007) devised two further dimensions of employment relationships: individualism and collectivism. Individualism is concerned with how an organisation directs its policies at individual employees e.g reward, legal protection and to what extent it takes into account their feelings and value to the organisation, ranging from commodities to resources/assets. Collectivism is about how management policy involves employees mobilising their interests through...