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Better than Nothing? Is Non-union Partnership a Contradiction in Terms?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stewart Johnstone



Though the notion of union-management partnership commands an extensive body of literature, little is known about non-union partnership arrangements. This article addresses the relatively unexplored issue of non-union partnership through a detailed case study of WebBank, a British Internet bank. Three main themes are explored. First, we seek to understand more about the meaning of — and rationale for — partnership in non-union settings. Second, we explore the operation of non-union partnership in practice. Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of non-union partnership from the perspectives of various organizational actors. The article suggests that in judging the effectiveness of a partnership arrangement, or indeed any voice regime more generally, there is a need to re-consider the benchmarks for success, and to place them in the context of contemporary employment relations. The evidence suggests that it would be deeply unhelpful and inaccurate to dismiss a non-union partnership a priori as a ‘contradiction in terms’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Johnstone S, Ackers P, Wilkinson A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Industrial Relations

Year: 2010

Volume: 52

Issue: 2

Pages: 151-168

Print publication date: 01/04/2010

Date deposited: 28/11/2014

ISSN (print): 0022-1856

ISSN (electronic): 1472-9296

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0022185609359442


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