Strategic Choices in Pluralist and Unitarist Employment Relations Regimes: A Study of Australian Telecommunications

Posted: 30 Jun 2010

See all articles by Peter K. Ross

Peter K. Ross

Griffith University, Australia

Greg J. Bamber

Monash University, Australia; Newcastle University, England

Date Written: October 1, 2009

Abstract

Using interview data collected between 1992 and 2009, the authors explore how deregulation of the Australian telecommunications sector and re-regulation of the labor market affected employment relations (ER) strategies at Telstra, Australia’s for­mer telecommunications monopoly. Labor market re-regulation reversed much of the previous institutional support for union activity, and unions struggled to adjust to this changed institutional context. Telstra’s ER strategies included large-scale downsizing and outsourcing. It moved dramatically toward unitarist (anti-union) ER approaches, with a shift away from collective bargaining toward individual employment contracts. This history raises a more general question of the extent to which employers make strategic ER choices autonomously and the extent to which such choices reflect the influence of the national institutional context. The authors conclude that while the changing institutional context - in this case, primarily government regulation - facili­tated Telstra’s strategic choices, management ideology was an important intervening variable in determining such choices.

Keywords: Pluralist, Unitarist, Employment Relations Regimes, Australian Telecommunications

JEL Classification: J50

Suggested Citation

Ross, Peter K. and Bamber, Greg J., Strategic Choices in Pluralist and Unitarist Employment Relations Regimes: A Study of Australian Telecommunications (October 1, 2009). Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 63, No. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1632596

Peter K. Ross (Contact Author)

Griffith University, Australia ( email )

Gold Coast, Queensland 4111
Australia
+61 7 555 29679 (Phone)

Greg J. Bamber

Monash University, Australia ( email )

Department of Management
27 Sir John Monash Drive, Monash University
Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3145
Australia
+61 3 9903 2615 (Phone)

Newcastle University, England ( email )

Business School
Newcastle University
NE1 7RU Newcastle upon Tyne
United Kingdom

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