Organisational Analysis

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Of what relevance is an understanding of the Unitarism/Pluralism debate to our understanding of organisational life?


Organisational life in modern times has changed significantly over the years. Whereas once upon a time it was a place in which senior managers’ and owners’ sole purpose was to rule in order to fulfil their objectives through the organisation made up of its subjects, the employees, today it is now made up largely of a complex partnership of employees and employers all glued strongly or loosely to fulfil their individual objectives and to a greater or lesser extent, the objectives of the organisation. Thus, the organisation, made up of its staffing structure, leadership style and culture can be considered as a living breathing eco system, which provides an output of service or produce of value to its consumers. The big question however, is how should employers and employees be galvanised to produce that output. Is it possible to bring people together with different needs, values, aims and objectives and forge a common aim and objective with the spirit of cooperation and strong teamwork for the good of the organisation? Is it better to accept that there will always be differences between individuals and groups and only by a compromise between the groups and individuals can common objectives be realised? This essay focuses on a dichotomy of two approaches within organisations, namely the unitary and pluralist approach. The essay gives clear distinction between the two and how over several decades these two approaches have played a role in the evolution of organisational life. Therefore, because of the groups that exist with competing influences in organisations, this requires managers with different types of leadership skills to be strategically placed to be able to ensure that the overall aims and objectives of the organisation are communicated, as well as managers having the necessary skills to negotiate during times of conflict, with this said, this essay will also focus on the two most popular typologies of leadership which are the transformational and transactional types and their organisational functions within the two approaches mentioned above.

Finally, Examples of both approaches will be illustrated in two case studies

Within this unitary approach is the assumption that employees and managers buy into the organisational culture in which there is a common acceptance and co-operative attitudes and values Rees and Porter, (2000). Those who disagree are outsiders, unreasonable, recalcitrant and therefore passions and misunderstandings that breed conflict are therefore stoked by unhealthy, marginal factions or agents provocateurs. Thus disagreement and overt conflict, obstructive behaviour and even strike action, is considered unnecessary, deviant and damaging to the organisation. The unitary framework as Brooks, (2006) argues, tries to depict managers as having the best interests of all staff at heart when decisions are made and if staff joins a trade union then this can only be because of poor management practice and communication. The unitary stance for employees is expected to undergo continuous quality improvement in which they become multi-skilled and ready to tackle with zest and efficiency whatever tasks are required Buchanan and Huczynski (2004). If a union is recognised within such a unitary type organisation, its role is that of a further means of communication between groups of staff and the company rather than conflict. The emphasis is therefore on good relationships and sound terms and conditions of employment, which would have been agreed between the individual and the employer and collective bargaining as a way of determining the elements of the work-pay relationship is too distant and removed from the individual Rees and Porter, (2000) .

So what is required of employers to achieve the unitary approach within an organisation? When recruiting staff,...
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