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Perspectives on Industrial Relations

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Perspectives on Industrial Relations


Alan Fox outlines that managers have different “frames of reference”, which may be comprehended by how one views employment relations. This suggests that impractical frames of reference occur between numerous managers and the general public which twist perception of the details, causing solutions to be inconvenient. As stated by Fox, a frame of reference needs to be established through which the difficulties of industrial relations may be viewed practically, so that feasible answers can be discovered. Fox indicated that there are two main frames of reference in employment relations, the unitary system and the pluralistic frame.

In this essay I am going to view the two perspectives discussed by Alan fox, along with discussing with perspective I feel closely fits the world of work presently.

Unitarist Perspective

This is based upon the supposition that a company is, at the same time, the unitarist perspective company which can be a non-segregated and a consistent whole, with the idea of being ‘one happy family’, where the management team and employees all share a general motive, highlighting reciprocal collaboration, along with having a set of general usefulness, appeals and intentions. Additionally, unitary has a patronising way where it requests all employee’s allegiance along with being mainly managerial in its prominence and implementation. (Naukrihub, 2007)

There are two main suggestions causing unitarist perspective. Firstly, conflict as the utterance of employee discontent and disagreements with the management team is seen as an unreasonable action. Conflict is seen inauspicious for a company and should be subdued through force. Secondly, trade unions are considered needless since the faithfulness between a company and its employees are deemed reciprocally exclusive, meaning that there cannot be two separate sides of a business. (Rose, 2004)

Conflict is seen as troublesome and the compulsive result of troublemakers, communication disintegration and interpersonal discord. Thus, trade unions should be refused an existence in a company. However, in certain cases, trade union made push managements to allow their existence on the basis of employment conditions and pay resolution. As stated by in this perspective, under no circumstances should a trade union have a role to act in the decision-making inside an organisation, as this would result in a contravention of managerial entitlement. (Rose, 2004)

“There are no oppositionary groups, therefore no rival leaders within the team”. (Fox p.4:9).

Alan Fox questioned why a numerous amount of managers kept impractical ideologies in the work environment, while admitting that they do aid managers in attaining company targets. Fox suggested that ideologies serve for three reasons. First, self-reassurance. To hold employees responsible for anti-management activities. Second, Persuasion. It is a lot simpler to manage when staff trust that their company’s aims are valuable. Thirdly, Legitimacy. Management activities and authority are legitimate if all trust that appeals are identical.

As a straightforward theoretical ploy, the unitarist perspective can be managed to recognise industrial relations atmosphere within certain kinds of company’s, both past and present. Many organisations in the twenty-first century have development a management with an adjusted unitarist view. An example is how well Marks & Spencers treat their employees and its firms. Neo-paternalism is often with they are described as. In the company’s contexts, the unitarist perspective continues as a vital theoretical device plan for inspecting managers perceptions and views.

Pluralistic perspectives

In pluralism, a company is perceived as being made up of a number of parties that are included in decision-making and highlighting the dissimilar appeals of its members. It views conflict as standard, to be managed properly, an unavoidable event and something that can’t be removed. The role of management leans less toward forcing and managing and more towards convincing and collaboration. The centre of all pluralist reasoning is collective bargaining.

Alan fox views the employer-employee relations as possessing two vital but dissimilar features, specifically managerial relations and market relations. Leading to Fox’s reasoning concerning managerial relations, is the benefit of collective bargaining to society. Not due to it distributing economic recompense, but due to it being a linked rule-making procedure and representative in essence.

"Market Relations are concerned with the terms and conditions on which labour is hired - they are therefore economic in character.” (Fox pg7)

Fox argues that in the present day, the public and employer are accustomed to conversations or disagreements about how management control employees in terms of contract hours, overtimes, wages, sick pay, holidays etc. Fox though, proposes that employees should be eager to consider administrative choices as well.

The main supposition of pluralistic perspective, is that an individuals company forms groups who have their own goals, appeals and management. These goals and interests quite often compete and conflict with the other groups along with giving rise to strain which has to managed. A pluralistic company has a number of sources of trade unions, allegiance and power and other individual interests. (Rose, 2004)

Trade unions are considered rightful representatives of employees. Conflict is managed by collective bargaining and it seen not inevitably as a terrible thing and if controlled properly, may in fact be conveyed towards development and constructive change. Practical managers should embrace conflict to happen. There is a substantial tendency for conflict instead of harmony. Pluralistic organisations should accept that their employees have obedience to companies other than their personal management team and how trade unions are a rightful origin of these loyalties.

Unitarist or Pluralist in a workplace?

When considering which perspective fits the world of work today, in my opinion, I think that organisations are pluralistic. I feel that having an organisation with a pluralist perspective with be more beneficial than if one was to have a unitarist perspective. Pluralist perspectives have many strengths that I feel overlap the strengths of unitarist perspectives.

One of the strengths of pluralist form is that is spreads the power between the bargaining groups



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