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

  • Author / Creator
    Pohler, Dionne
  • 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).

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Reshef, Yonatan (School of Business)
    • Elrod, Terry (School of Business)
    • Krahn, Harvey (Department of Sociology)
    • Greenwood, Royston (School of Business)
    • Verma, Anil (University of Toronto)