Business or association? the strategic response of employer associations to the decentralisation of bargaining in Australia

Peter Sheldon, Louise Thornthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Decentralisation of bargaining poses particular challenges for employer associations. It reduces the sense of collective identity among members, decreases the attraction of associations' traditional collective goods and increases the urgency and array of individual member needs while increasing the costs of servicing them. Decentralisation also threatens revenue as large companies, the financial backbone of associations, shift employment relations activities in-house. This weakens the attractions of membership with the risk that employer associations will retain only smaller, heavily dependent members. We discuss employer association attempts to meet these challenges while competing with commercial service businesses. Their strategic choices lie on a continuum between traditional membership-based organisational identity, with its roots in movement as well as organisation, and one that more closely approximates a business services firm. Associations experiment along this continuum as they develop strategy iteratively and the article identifies factors that help determine their choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-158
Number of pages31
JournalThe Economic and Labour Relations Review
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

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