Employee Relations

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There are two basic views expressed about the basis of the relationship between management and trade unions in particular or employees in general: the unitary and the pluralist perspectives.

The unitary view

It is typically held by managements who see their function as that of directing and controlling the workforce to achieve economic and growth objectives. To this end, management believes that it is the rule-making authority. Management tends to view the enterprise as a unitary system with one source of authority – itself – and one focus of loyalty – the organization. It extols the virtue of teamwork, where everyone strives jointly to a common objective, everyone pulls their weight to the best of their ability, and everyone accepts their place and function gladly, following the leadership of the appointed manager or supervisor.

These are admirable sentiments, but they sometimes lead to what McClelland (1963) referred to as an orgy of ‘avuncular pontification’ on the part of the leaders of industry. This unitary view, which is essentially autocratic and authoritarian, has sometimes been expressed in agreements as ‘management’s right to manage’. The philosophy of HRM with its emphasis on commitment and mutuality is based on the unitary perspective.

The pluralist view

It states that an industrial organization is a plural society, containing many related but separate interests and objectives which must be maintained in some kind of equilibrium. In place of a corporate unity reflected in a single focus of authority and loyalty, management has to accept the existence of rival sources of leadership and attachment.

It has to face fact that business enterprise has a triple personality: 1. Economic,
2. Political
3. Social institution.


It produces and distributes incomes.


It embodies a system of government in which managers...
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