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What are the consequences of a managerial approach to union renewal for union behaviour? A case study of USDAW

Evans, Samantha, Pyman, Amanda and Byford, Iona 2017, What are the consequences of a managerial approach to union renewal for union behaviour? A case study of USDAW, Employee relations, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 2-18, doi: 10.1108/ER-06-2016-0105.

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Title What are the consequences of a managerial approach to union renewal for union behaviour? A case study of USDAW
Author(s) Evans, Samantha
Pyman, Amanda
Byford, Iona
Journal name Employee relations
Volume number 39
Issue number 1
Start page 2
End page 18
Total pages 17
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Place of publication Bingley, Eng.
Publication date 2017
ISSN 0142-5455
Keyword(s) Performance management
Trade unions
Managerialism
Strategic choices
Union renewal
Union strategy
Summary Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the consequences of a managerial approach to renewal for a union’s behaviour by analysing the UK’s fourth largest trade union – The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW). Design/methodology/approach: The findings draw on in-depth semi-structured interviews with union officials. Findings: The research findings show the significance of a managerialist approach to UDSAW’s renewal strategy and its correlation with existing renewal strategies of organising and partnership. However, this approach was not immune to context, with tensions between agency and articulation challenging the basic concept of managerialism and influencing union behaviour. Research limitations/implications: The data were collected from a single case with a small sample size. Practical implications: The authors’ findings suggest that tensions between bureaucracy and democracy will mediate the extent to which managerialist approaches can be used within unions adding support to the strategic choice theory and underlying arguments that unions can influence their fortune. However, institutional and external pressures could see managerialism becoming more prevalent, with oligarchic and bureaucratic forces prevailing, which could be particularly applicable to unions operating in challenging contexts, such as USDAW. The managerialisation of unions has consequences for union officers; with officers facing increasing pressure in their roles to behave as managers with attendant implications for role conflict, identity and motivation. Social implications: If managerialism is becoming more prevalent with unions, with oligarchic and bureaucratic forces prevailing, this has potentially wider societal implications, whereby collectivism and worker-led democracy could become scarcer within unions and the workplace, thus irretrievably altering the nature of the employment relationship. Originality/value: This paper brings together disparate themes in the literature to propose a conceptual framework of three key elements of managerialism: centralised strategies; performance management and the managerialisation of union roles. The authors’ findings demonstrate how there is scope for unions to adopt a hybrid approach to renewal, and to draw upon their internal resources, processes and techniques to implement change, including behavioural change. Consequently, theories and empirical studies of union renewal need to better reflect the complexities of approaches that unions are now adopting and further explore these models within the agency and articulation principles that underpin the nature of unions.
Language eng
DOI 10.1108/ER-06-2016-0105
Field of Research 150306 Industrial Relations
1503 Business And Management
Socio Economic Objective 910401 Industrial Relations
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2017, Emerald Publishing Limited
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30090652

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Department of Management
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