SHRM – Initial Post

There are two main perspectives when approaching employee relationships within organisations: the unitary perspective and the pluralist perspective. The pluralistic perspective fosters the belief that organisational, employee and employer goals cannot be fully aligned as stakeholders possess “diverse sets of beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviours” (Giles 1989: 131) and therefore, conflict will arise and solutions will be found. In the pluralistic perspective, there is a clearer division within organisational hierarchy and clearly defined departments, roles, responsibilities and boundaries with continued negotiation needed between stakeholders to ensure that employees needs are fulfilled while the employer is not giving more than they feel they should.

The unitary perspective differs in that it combines the goals of both the employee and the employer in order to encourage loyalty to the organisation and foster a partnership between these two key stakeholders. A unitary organisation may support employees in various goals whether that is personal by providing flexible working, financial through offering competitive rates of pay, or professional by providing employees with the opportunity to advance. This approach is beneficial in fostering a cooperative and communicative environment where stakeholders at all levels feel they have an investment in the organisation and, therefore, should contribute towards organisational success.

I feel that my experience of employer relationships leans more towards the unitary perspective as I feel the balance of power has always leaned more towards the employer than the employee in organisations I have worked within. However, I do not feel this necessarily creates a negative environment as I do not believe that it is possible to fully avoid conflict in the workplace.

Is it possible to ever have a fully unitary approach to an organisation while still maintaining a structural hierarchy within an organisation? Is a structural hierarchy necessary in a fully cooperative unitary organisation?

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