Major Perspectives in Industrial Relations

Topics: Employment, Industrial relations, Trade union Pages: 6 (2007 words) Published: March 11, 2011
This essay focuses on the three dominant perspectives in industrial relations. These perspectives are unitary perspective, pluralist perspective and Marxist perspective as Dzimbiri (2008) suggests. The essay discusses each perspective in detail and further analyzes the one which provide an explanation of the employment relations in the modern work organizations. Having done that the essay finally gives a conclusion. It has to be mentioned that in the beginning, the essay starts by defining the term ‘Industrial Relations’. DEFINITIONS

According to Kochan in Dzimbiri (2008) Industrial Relations is defined as “all aspects of people at work as individuals and groups, organized or unorganized, the behavior of employer and union organization together with public policy or legal framework governing employment conditions.” On the other hand, Clegg in Blyton andTurbull (2004:29) defines industrial relations as “the study of rules governing employment, together with the ways in which the rules are made and changed, interpreted and administered.” The two definitions imply that industrial relations involve regulation of the employment relationship between employers and employees. In both definitions, the employment relationship is based on the rules, procedures and practices which the concerned parties have to adhere to. Therefore, industrial relations can be defined as the study of relationships between employers and employees that is governed by a set of rules, procedures and practices for the benefit of either party. UNITARY PERSPECTIVE

According to Burchill in Dzimbiri (2008:02) “Unitary perspective of industrial relations views a work organization as characterized by an integrated and harmonious whole existing for common objectives, values, interests and single centre of loyalty and authority.” It suggests that employees and employers work towards the achievement of the organization’s goals and objectives. The assumption is that employees are always loyal and trustworthy to the management in order to ensure that organizational common goals are achieved. Armstrong (2006:758) holds the same view and contends that “unitary perspective 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.” Conflict is regarded as bad, destructive and counterproductive in unitary perspective and should not be allowed at all costs. Dzimbiri (2008:02) argues further that “conflict is pathological and caused by agitators and troublemakers, misunderstanding or personality clash.” In this case, the managers use their position power in an autocratic manner to deal with any problems. The working relationship is associated with strict adherence to rules, regulations and procedures. Armstrong (2006:758) points out that “unitary perspective, which is essentially autocratic and authoritarian, has sometimes been expressed in agreements as management right to manage.” In unitary perspective, trade unions are considered as the hindrance to management and not very useful in the running of the organization. Dzimbiri (2008:02) alludes to this view and contends that “trade unions in unitary perspective are either viewed as obstructive and unnecessary to the proper management of the enterprise, or as instruments of communication with workers for the achievement of unity and control.” Management has control and power over the functioning of the trade unions. The trade union is used as a means of communication with the workforce by the management in instances where these trade unions exist. PLURALIST PERSPECTIVE

Dzimbiri (2008:03) suggests that “pluralist perspective is based on the notion that the work place is a microcosm of society replete with diversity in social groups, social interests, values, and beliefs that generate...
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