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Can there be non-union forms of partnership ?

Dietz, G. and Cullen, J. and Coad, A. (2005) 'Can there be non-union forms of partnership ?', Employee relations., 27 (3). pp. 289-306.


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore a number of issues pertaining to the conceptualisation, operationalisation, feasibility and effectiveness of workplace partnership arrangements in a non-unionised setting. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses the most common definitions of partnership to discern whether scope exists for non-unionised forms. It then presents a detailed case study, based on 38 semi-structured interviews with 29 interviewees, inside a non-unionised company to analyse whether its people management arrangements conform with the definitions presented, and to examine the employees’ experience of those arrangements. Findings – The paper notes that most partnership definitions can accommodate non-unionised forms, if the arrangements for people management inside such firms meet certain standards on employee voice mechanisms and the exchange of mutual gains. The evidence from the case study suggests that its unusual policies and practices do conform with a viable model of non-unionised partnership – albeit with some reservations. The benefits and concerns are discussed in the paper. Research implications/limitations – The paper presents a credible definition and observable operationalisation of partnership for researchers to adopt. It encourages future research on the extent to which so-called “partnership” organisations, including non-union enterprises, comply and suggests comparative research between paired unionised and non-unionised cases. However, it is limited to one case study. Originality/value – The paper's primary value is in its extension of the partnership debate beyond its current “union-only ghetto” into examining non-unionised forms, as well. The case study is also unique in the literature as an example of non-unionised partnership.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Clothing, Non-unionism, Organizational culture, Partnership, United Kingdom.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Record Created:26 Aug 2008
Last Modified:01 Aug 2012 13:02

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