Union‐Division: On the Paradoxes of Purpose and Membership Scope in Union Mergers

24 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2012

See all articles by Rebecca Bednarek

Rebecca Bednarek

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Stephen Blumenfeld

Victoria University of Wellington

Sally Riad

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: November 2012

Abstract

Union mergers raise central questions about a union's raison d'être and the range of constituents it can serve effectively. Whereas the challenges posed by union purpose and scope of membership have long engaged researchers, few studies have fleshed out the contradictory issues that engage committed members and leaders during a merger. We argue that in mergers, fundamental themes in unionism intersect in paradoxical ways. We analyse a merger of tertiary education unions in New Zealand and situate its debates within a changing context for industrial relations. The case provides insight into the tensions inherent in union mergers by addressing the drivers for integration and differentiation as well as the role of leaders in shaping these. The findings elucidate paradoxical dynamics inherent in mergers: the paradox of purpose confronts the tension between industrial and craft unionism and the paradox of membership scope considers critical mass and communities of interest. The conclusion reflects on identity, leadership and context during mergers and poses contributions to research and practice.

Suggested Citation

Bednarek, Rebecca and Blumenfeld, Stephen and Riad, Sally, Union‐Division: On the Paradoxes of Purpose and Membership Scope in Union Mergers (November 2012). Industrial Relations Journal, Vol. 43, Issue 6, pp. 548-571, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2179763 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2338.2012.00696.x

Rebecca Bednarek (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

Stephen Blumenfeld

Victoria University of Wellington

Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

Sally Riad

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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