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Non-union Industrial Relations Patterns Essay

Non-union Industrial Relations Patterns

            In industrial relation paternalistic patterns, focus is given to the organizational hierarchic roles that create closely associated groups with a single individual serving as the fulcrum of the association. In contemporary use, there is no discrimination in the use of the term based on gender but the etymology of the remains central to definition of the pattern. In this pattern, the head of the organization’s decisions and perspectives on industrial relations prevails all others because of the assumption that his outlook is superior in the organization’s welfare and interests (Dundon & Rollinson, 2004). In such a pattern, dissent is minimized and conformity becomes characteristic of relations patterns and political systems of the organization. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and social commentator Upton Sinclair considers this pattern to be observable in Ford after the 1929 US Great Depression, with Henry Ford cast in the paternalistic role (Sinclair, 2001).

            If bureaucratic pattern is prevalent in in an industrial relation system, political power is in the structure and regulations of the organization. In such a system, the means of control is done through the rule of law rather than the rule of one like in paternalistic patterns. The intense hierarchy of

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the industrial system which is based on effecting control and defining interactions and relationship within the organization. In general, the institution of policies that restrict industrial relations, such as the formation of unions, is independent to organizational policies however political influence may still be enforced by the bureaucracy indirectly through other policies or “internal political relations and the political consciousness, radical or conservative, of their leadership” (Schiavone, 2007 p. 30).  Dundon and Rollinson (2004) considers the UK’s  Labour Party, which is characterized as  political expression of trade union bureaucracy, as an example this pattern.

            From a positivist view point, human resource industrial patterns, recognizes more the humanistic value of individuals in organization since it considers its organizational value. On the other hand, some would argue that the system of valuation considers individual members of the organization as factors of production or operation with the primary concern reducing risk and maximizing organizational resources (Dine, 2007). It is currently the most espoused pattern in practice and lessens the concentration of political power from individuals or the organizational structure in favor of the organization as a whole. Reforms in the EU’s welfare systems can be considered as an example: focus is on the development of organizational competencies in response to client welfare requirements through the establishment of regulatory guidelines while maintaining the independence of state welfare systems (Bouguet, 2002).

Deterring Unionization

            Considering the concept of unionization and labor markets are changing significantly with the internationalization of globalization of industries and labor markets, according to Sloane and Whitney (2006), there is an urgency in developing and understanding how these labor organization ideas and concepts are changing in today’s industries. In general, there is a perception that unionization contravenes management or organizational objectives. This is because when individual members of an organization become a collective, they are able to consolidate their representation, value and resources in the organization. A consequence of this development is that power shifts towards the side or union members versus organizational management. Historically, deterring unionization has led to significant conflict between labor groups and management (Sinclair, 2001). Direct action against unionization may have become limited because of labor liberalization or organizational laws however, Schiavone (2007) points out that many companies have created indirect institutional deterrents in the form of discrimination against union member for career and professional advancement or creation of waivers to right to unionization.

            However, deterring unionization need not be necessarily combative. Instead deterrents to unionization, many companies are eying the development of incentive systems that will increase the cost or risk of membership (Sloane & Witney, 2006). Another strategy that is in developing compensation and benefit programs that eliminate the necessity for union representation (Dundon & Rollinson, 2004). Many companies have also given effort in impacting public perceptions of unionization by developing public relation campaigns, some even advocating unionization, suggesting that there is no urgency in membership because organization is accepted and supported by the company as well as the industry (Schiavone, 2007).


Bouguet, D. (2002). Convergence in Social Welfare Systems: What Are We Talking About?. Comparing Dynamics of Transformation of Social Protection Systems in Context of Globalization and European Construction. Oslo Norway: Welfare Reforms for the 21st Century – Second Conference

Dine, Philip M. (2007). State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence. New York: McGraw-Hill

Dundon, T. and Rollinson, D. (2004), Employment Relations in Non-Union Firms. Routledge: London

Schiavone, Michael (2007) Unions in Crisis: The Future of Organized Labor in America. Chicago: Praeger Publishers

Sincliar, Upton (2001). The Flivver King. Chicago: Charles H. Herr Publishing

Sloane, Arthur A and Witney, Fred (2006) Labor Relations, 12th Edition. New York: Prentice Hall


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