Australian Workplace Agreements and High Performance Workplaces

A Critique of Mitchell and Fetter

Paul J. Gollan, Jonathan Hamberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In the September 2003 edition of the Journal of Industrial Relations, Mitchell and Fetter considered the extent to which the introduction of Australian workplace agreements (AWAs) has helped promote a ‘high performance’ HRM agenda in Australia. The authors observe that the ‘high performance’ workplace, as defined by Mitchell and Fetter, has never been sought by the proponents of individualisation, and that employment contracts are not the vehicle through which such practices would normally be formally enshrined. In addition, the authors contend that Mitchell and Fetter are unable validly to draw the conclusions they do from their analysis of the texts of two samples of AWAs, and that they have ignored significant evidence which points to directly contradicting conclusions. In particular, the results of a survey of AWA employees is drawn on to suggest that, at least in larger, private sector workplaces, AWAs are associated with a number of positive outcomes that would be consistent with AWAs being used in conjunction with a ‘high trust’ HRM agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-527
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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