The paper "Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice" is a wonderful example of an assignment on management. The importance of frames of reference as a means of understanding the attitudes and behaviors of the executive, managers, and employees at the workplace was highlighted best by Fox (1974). These frames comprise certain perceptions that mediate actions and ate rooted in specific assumptions, beliefs, and values related to the nature of the organization about how they operate and the place of the employee and managers within them. Two predominant frames are distinguished in the context of industrial relations are distinguishable clearly given the fact that one of these frames is based on unitarism and the other on pluralism. The unitarist frame of reference is founded upon a presumed harmony of interest between employees and the management and therefore an assumption of shared goals, so denying the legitimacy of conflict and any group or groups which might express it.
In contrast, the pluralist frame of reference recognizes the inevitability of diverse employee and management interests related to competition over the allocation of scarce resources such as time, reward, and effort.
As a consequence, it accepts different goals and the legitimacy of conflict and of groups and processes which might articulate and regulate it. The link between the unitarist and the pluralist dichotomy and the notions of individualism and collectivism has tended to rest on the nature of the relationship between interests and representation (Edwards, 2003). Individualism at the workplace has been seen to be in close association with unitarism, given the fact that in this particular frame of reference, there is the scenario that suggests shared interests between the individual employee and the manger which is direct and unmediated by collective employee representation.
Pluralism has been seen, on the other hand as being related to collectivism given the fact that this perspective implies conflicting employee-management interests and consequentially a preference for collective institutions and procedures in the form of trade unions and collective bargaining or state-sponsored work councils that would represent and regulate these conflicting interests. Seen in these terms, unitarism/individualism and pluralism/collectivism emerge as being mutually exclusive: interests are either shared or they are not; the collective mechanism is either present or they are not.
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