Bargaining structure and management control of industrial relations
Bargaining structure has traditionally been at the centre of Industrial Relations research, and increasingly attention is being given to the influences upon it. This study examines management's attempts to regulate union behaviour in four organisations having different bargaining structures. These are treated as case studies and using qualitative data they are compared to study three relationships: between management structure and bargaining structure; between bargaining structure and union behaviour; and between situational determinants and bargaining structure. The background to the thesis is outlined in Part I. This introduces the study, des0ribes the research method, and then applies some of the research data available to previous hypotheses. A number of tentative proposals are put forward regarding bargaining structure and the influences upon it which are pursued in Part III. The four case studies are systematically analysed in the following four chapters. For each collective bargaining in practice is outlined followed by an analysis of managerial attempts to regulate this. Part III draws on this raw data and analyses managerial involvement in Industrial Relations in two stages. Initially a framework for the study of managerial involvement is developed which puts bargaining structure in its context. Secondly using an established criterion the effectiveness of management control over union activity is examined. Finally the implications of the analysis for management, trade unions, and the reform of Industrial Relations are pursued. A number of proposals are put forward in this thesis. First the level of bargaining cannot be studied in isolation, but must be placed in the context of the other dimensions of bargaining structure. Second, bargaining structure is influenced by constraints both internal and external to the organisation, yet management appear to have a good deal of discretion in choosing a particular structure. Third, bargaining structure must be placed within the context of the control systems used by management, many of which may not immediately be concerned with Industrial Relations. Finally, to understand managerial control over union activity we must look not only at the control systems but also the legitimacy of managerial authority. Put together these proposals contribute to our understanding of likely future changes in bargaining structure, and the shape possible reforms might take.