Strategy in Digi Company

Topics: Management, Organizational studies and human resource management, Trade union Pages: 20 (6400 words) Published: February 9, 2011
OXFORD REVIEW OF ECONOMIC POLICY. VOL. 7, NO. 1

THE REDISCOVERY OF THE MANAGEMENT PREROGATIVE: THE MANAGEMENT OF LABOUR RELATIONS IN THE 1980s JOHNPURCELL
Templeton College, Oxford

Downloaded from oxrep.oxfordjournals.org by guest on February 5, 2011

I. INTRODUCTION
Restructuring and the process of deregulation has been especially marked in the field of labour relations. Institutional changes in the scope and level of collective bargaining, in union recognition, and in dispute resolution procedures have been the hallmark of the decade closely associated with the rediscovery of the management prerogative. Words such as 'transformation', 'the new industrial relations', and 'productivity miracle' were commonly used towards the end of the decade to describe the process of change and the marked break with the past (e.g. Bassett, 1986). It is not the purpose of this paper to assess the extent to which changes have occurred, or to predict how permanent they may be. Nor is it proposed to debate the relative contribution of legislative change, international competi-

tive pressure, changes in the domestic economy, and shifts in managerial and union attitudes to the achievement of change. A familiar list of authorities provide evidence and counter evidence on the degree and type of change (Maclnnes 1987,1989; Metcalf, 1989; Brown and Wadhwani, 1990; Nolan and Marginson, 1990; Oulton, 1990; Beardwell, 1990; Kelly and Richardson, 1989). The aim of this paper is to describe and assess the underlying changes in large companies in management thinking and strategic intentions towards the management of labour in the 1980s. This concerns primarily the development of the firm-specific labour market and organization-based employment systems in contrast to the traditional reliance on the external labour market for labour supply, and on industry-wide wage-fixing institutions for the determination of basic terms and conditions of em-

0266—S03X/91 $3.00 © OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AND THE OXFORD REVIEW OF ECONOMIC POUCY UMITED

33

OXFORD REVIEW OF ECONOMIC POLICY, VOL. 7, NO. 1

ployment. Although these trends began decades ago in many sectors, it is only in the 1980s that deregulation of much of the labour market can be said to have been achieved. It will be argued that this move to firm-specific labour markets, especially in large companies, has been associated with marked changes in priorities from concern with industrial relations and collective bargaining to the flexible deployment and utilization of labour under the management prerogative. This is associated with an emphasis on individualism away from what many see in retrospect as an undue focus on collectivism in the 1970s. This shift away from collectivism and towards deregulating labour markets is associated with the marginalization of trade unions. The change in priorities may be illustrated by anecdotal evidence from one of the major, heavily unionized, manufacturing companies in the UK. At a two-day meeting in 1990 of all the personnel specialists in the company, numbering over 100, each was asked to specify in writing the major points of concern in managing employee relations over the next few years. The subjects of skills shortage, flexible utilization of labour, team working, reward systems, and performance appraisal headed the list. Industrial relations, defined as relations with trade unions, collective bargaining, and shop stewards were hardly mentioned. This was despite the fact that the company had suffered from industrial action in some plants in the previous 12 months when it decentralized collective bargaining. The personnel director noted that 15 to 20 years earlier the prime task of personnel was 'to keep the peace; keep the factory running; and we were bloody good at it, but it was entirely negative'.' This may grossly exaggerate the extent of conflict and the primacy of industrial relations in the past, and the views of the personnel specialists...

References: Ahlstrand, B. (1990), The Questfor Productivity: A Case Study ofFawley after Flanders, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. — Purcell, J. (1988), 'Employee Relations Strategy in the Multi-Divisional Company ', Personnel Review, 17(3). Atkinson, J. (1984), 'Manpower Strategies for Flexible Organizations ', Personnel Management, August, 28-31. Bassett, P. (1986), Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain, London, Macmillan. Beardwell, I. (1990), 'Annual Review Article 1989 ' ', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 28(1). Beaumont, P., and Townley, B. (1985), 'Greenfield Sites, New Plants and Work Practices ', in U. Hammon (ed.), Current Research in Management., London, Pinter. Blackwell, R., and Lloyd, P. (1989), 'New Managerialism in the Civil Service: Industrial Relations under the Thatcher Administration ', in R. Mailly, S. J. Dimmock, and A, S. Sethi (eds.), Industrial Relations in the Public Services, London, Routledge. Brown, W. A., and Wadhwani, S. (1990), 'The Economic Effects of Industrial Relations Legislation since 1979 ', National Institute Economic Review, February. Carruth, A. A., and Oswald, A. (1989), Pay Determination and Industrial Prosperity, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
41
OXFORD REVIEW OF ECONOMIC POLICY, VOL 7, NO. 1
CBI (1988), The Structure and Processes of Pay Determination in the Private Sector: 1970-986, London, CBI. Collard, R., and Dale, B. (1989), 'Quality Circles ', in K. Sisson (ed.). Personnel Management in Britain, Oxford, Blackwell. Cooper, J. (1963), 'Industrial Relations: Sweden Shows the Way ', Socialism in the Sixties, London, Fabian Research Series 235. Edwards, P. K. (1987), Managing the Factory, Oxford, Blackwell. Dore, R. (1989), 'Where are We Now: Musings of an Evolutionist ', Work, Employment and Society, 3, December, 425-46. Frenkel, S., and Peetz, D. (1990), 'Enterprise Bargaining: the BCA 's Report on Industrial Relations Reform ', Journal of Industrial Relations, March. Gould, M., and Campbell, A. (1987), Strategies and Styles: The Role of the Centre in Managing Diversified Corporations, Oxford, Blackwell. Guest, D. E. (1987), 'Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations ', Journal of Management Studies. 24(5). Hakim, C. (1990), 'Core and Periphery in Employers ' Workforce Strategies: evidence from the 1987 ELUS Survey ', Work Employment and Society, 4(2), 157-88. Hendry, C. (1990), 'The Corporate Management of Human Resources Under Conditions of Decentralization ', British Journal of Management, 1,91-103. Hill, C. W. L., and Hoskinson, R. E. (1987), 'Strategy and Structure in the Multi-Product Firm ', Academy of Management Review, 12(2). Industrial Relations Review and Report (1989), 'Development in Multi-Employer Bargaining ', Employment Trends, 440. — (1990), 'Decentralized Bargaining in Practice I and II ', Employment Trends 454 and 457. Kelly, J., and Richardson, R. (1989), 'Annual Review Article 1988 ', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 27(1). Kessler, I. (1990), 'Flexibility and Comparability in Pay Determination For Professional Civil Servants ', Industrial Relations Journal, 21(3). Kochan, T. A., Katz, H. C , and McKersie, R. B. (1986), The Transformation of American Industrial Relations, New York, Basic Books. Leopold, J., and Jackson, M. (1990), 'Decentralization of Collective Bargaining ', Industrial Relations Journal, 21(3). Maclnnes, J. (1987), Thatcherism at Work, Milton Keynes, Open University Press. — (1989), "The Limits to British Industrial Relations Change ', LSE Quarterly, 3(2), Summer. Marchington, M. (1989), 'Joint Consultation in Practice ', in K. Sisson (ed.), Personnel Management in Britain. — Parker, P. (1990), Changing Patterns of Employee Relations, Hemel Hempstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf. Marginson, P. (1990), 'Change and Continuity in the Employment Structure of Larger Companies ', in A. Pollert, (ed.), Fainvell to Flexibility?, Oxford, Blackwell. — Edwards, P. K., Martin, R., Purcell, J., and Sisson, K. (1988), Beyond the Workplace: Managing Industrial Relations in Multi-plant Enterprises, Oxford, Blackwell. Marsden, D. (1978), Industrial Democracy and Industrial Control in West Germany, France and Great Britain., Research Paper 4, London, Department of Employment. — Thompson, M. (1990), 'Flexibility Agreements and their Significance in the Increase in Productivity in British Manufacturing ', Work, Employment and Society, 4(1), 184-204. Metcalf, D. (1989), 'Water Notes Dry Up ', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 27(1). Millward, N., and Stevens, M. (1986), British Workplace Industrial Relations. 1980-1984, Aldershot, Gower. Myrdal, H. G. (1990), "The Hard Way from a Centralized to a Decentralized Industrial Relations System ', paper presented to the First Conference of the European Community International Network of Research Institutes, Trier, September. Nolan, P., and Marginson, P. (1990), 'Skating on Thin Ice? David Metcalf on Trade Unions and Productivity ', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 28(2). Oulton, N. (1990), 'Labour Productivity in UK Manufacturing in the 1970s and the 1980s ', National Institute Economic Review, 132, May. Pollert, A. (1987), 'The Flexible Firm: A Model in Search of Reality (Or a Policy in Search of a Practice)? ', Warwick Papers in Industrial Relations, 19. Poole, M. (1989), The Origins of Economic Democracy: Profit Sharing and Employee Shareholding Schemes, London, Routledge.
Downloaded from oxrep.oxfordjournals.org by guest on February 5, 2011
42
J. Purcell
Purcell, J. (1987), 'Mapping Management Styles in Employee Relations ', Journal of Management Studies, 24(5). — (1989), "The Impact of Corporate Strategy on Human Resource Management ', in J. Storey (ed.), New Perspectives on Human Resource Management, London, Routledge. — Ahlstrand, B. (1988), 'Business Strategy and Employee Relations Structures in the Multi-divisional Company ', Management Research Papers 88/7, Oxford, Templeton College. — — (1989), 'Corporate Strategy and the Management of Employee Relations in the Multi-Divisional Company ', British Journal of Industrial Relations, 27(3). Sisson, K. (1987), The Management of Collective Bargaining, Oxford, BlackwelL — (1990), 'Employers ' Organizations and the Industrial Relations Strategiesof Individual Employers ', paper presented at the First Conference of the Industrial Relations in the European Community International Network of Research Institutions, Trier, September. Smith, P., and Morton, G. (1990), 'Union Exclusion in Theory and Practice: The Decollectivisation of Industrial Relations in Britain ', paper presented to the 1990 Cardiff conference on flexibility. Storey, J. (ed.) (1989), New Perspectives on Human Resource Management, London, Routledge. Thurley, K. (1990), 'Towards a European Approach to Personnel Management ', Personnel Management, September. Townley, B. (1989), 'Employee Communication Programmes ', in K. Sisson (ed.). Personnel Management in Britain, Oxford, BlackwelL
Downloaded from oxrep.oxfordjournals.org by guest on February 5, 2011
43
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Strategy Essay
  • Digi Company in Malaysia Essay
  • Essay about Digi
  • Class Notes: Understanding Winning Strategies for Companies Essay
  • Essay about Disney company-pest analysis and strategy
  • Newell Company Corporate Strategy Essay
  • Strategy Company Boeing Essay
  • SmartMart: Analysis of Company Strategy Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free