HRM Paradigm and Trade Unions Essay

Total Length: 1680 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 3

Page 1 of 6

The Harvard model argues that unions provide an excellent means for getting workers' valuable opinions aired and for "shocking" management into adopting better practices (Turnbull 1991). (Flanagan & Deshpande, 1996, p. 23)

Labor costs are one of the largest of business costs, in almost every area of business, including but not limited to wages and social support programs. For this reason most managers, owners and other stakeholders often seek to trim such costs, often at the expense of employee standards of living. (Lee, 1998, p. 313) Such decisions may be a logical business decision, with short-term results and long-term consequences or they could be legitimate ways in which to bring the labor market back to an efficient level that is more responsive to the real market in which employees work and businesses manufacture and sell products or services.

Though it is not universally clear if either unions or HRM are better for the employee or the employer the standards set by history are that employee voice is an essential aspect of the development of fair market practices with regard to labor costs.
Increased global competition has largely effected business in a national (Canadian) and international manner and will likely continue to do so. The situation of HRM, replacing the staunch organizational power of unions may be self-serving for business and therefore incompatible with strong unions, as strong unions are a show of force that is not easily persuaded. Some would argue that unions with greater understanding of market and business needs are an improvement over blind development of non-representative standards for employees. Either way, it is clear that a balance must again be reached with regard to labor standards and this balance must include a voice for both parties and ethics that respond realistically to needs and standards of both business and labor base.


Flanagan, D.J., & Deshpande, S.P. (1996). Top Management's Perceptions of Changes in HRM Practices after Union Elections in Small Firms: Implications for Building Competitive Advantage. Journal of Small Business Management, 34(4), 23.

Lee, E. (1998). Trade Union Rights: An Economic Perspective. International Labour Review, 137(3), 313.

Wells, D. (1993). Are strong Unions.....

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