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Non-union representation, union avoidance and the managerial agenda

Jimmy Donaghey, [Niall Cullinane, Tony Dundon and Anthony Dobbins]
Economic and Industrial Democracy (online first)


Non-union employee representation is an area which has attracted much interest in the voice literature. Much of the literature has been shaped by a dialogue which considers NERs as a means of union avoidance. More recently however scholars have suggested that for NERs to work in such contexts, they may need to be imbued with a higher set of functionalities to remain viable entities. Using a critical case study of a union recognition drive and managerial response in the form of an NER, this article contributes to a more nuanced interpretation of the literature dialogue than hitherto exists. A core component of the findings directly challenge existing interpretations within the field; namely that NERs are shaped by a paradox of managerial action. It is argued that the NER failed to satisfy for employees because of a structural remit, rather than through any paradox in managerial intent.