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To compete or cooperate? three essays on the relationship between unions and employee and organizational outcomes: the moderating effect of management's response Open Access


Other title
labor-management cooperation
social dilemma
union response
union-management relationship
industrial relations
appropriateness framework
union impact
what do unions do
competitive advantage
organizational outcomes
resource-based view
management repsonse
individual outcomes
collective voice/institutional response
monopoly face
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pohler, Dionne
Supervisor and department
Luchak, Andrew (School of Business)
Examining committee member and department
Elrod, Terry (School of Business)
Greenwood, Royston (School of Business)
Verma, Anil (University of Toronto)
Krahn, Harvey (Department of Sociology)
Reshef, Yonatan (School of Business)
School of Business

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In their highly influential work on the labour market impact of unions termed the collective voice/institutional response model (CVIR), Freeman & Medoff (1984) proposed that whether the union’s monopoly or voice face would prevail greatly depended on the union’s and management’s willingness to compete or cooperate, respectively. However, these authors and the researchers that tested their ideas afterwards neither theorized about nor tested this key moderating condition of a union’s impact. The result has been a confusing, mixed and generally inconclusive litany of research findings about the impact of unions at both the individual and organizational levels of analysis. I attempt to resolve this gap in CVIR by using the appropriateness framework (March 1994) to identify when and under what conditions management and unions, along with their members, will respond cooperatively or competitively toward each other. My empirical results are consistent with the idea that management response is a key moderating mechanism of a union’s power and thus impact, contributing to zero or negative sum outcomes when management chooses to compete (i.e., union power is exerted in the direction of harmful monopoly effects) and positive sum outcomes when management chooses cooperation (i.e., union power is exerted in the direction of beneficial voice effects). In particular, when environmental cues lead the union and/or unionized employees to believe that management values voice, they will consider “cooperation” an appropriate response under the circumstances and reciprocate in-kind with other-regarding behaviors. On the other hand, when environmental cues lead the union or unionized employees to believe that management may potentially behave opportunistically, they will consider “competition” appropriate under the circumstances, and respond in-kind with self-serving, competitive behaviours. Drawing upon the resource-based view of the firm, I argue how a cooperative union-management relationship can be a source of sustainable competitive advantage for the organization (Barney, 1991).
License granted by Dionne Pohler ( on 2010-09-14T15:47:15Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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