employee relations using the unitarist approach

Employee Relations can be summarised as the merger of corporate, administrative and employee requirements for the attainment of optimal and effective performance in the workplace (Kaufman, 2004). The groups of people implied in the concept of Employee Relations include stakeholders, management, employees, trade unions, as well as, the government. Employee Relations has increasingly become an important topic in the workplace because of the long-held belief that business operations are not always beneficial to all the players in employee relations (Ackers, 2003). That what is beneficial to employees is not as beneficial to managers or stakeholders.

This essay examines the concept of Employee Relations from the Unitarist approach. The essay’s proposition is that the adoption of a Unitarist approach is beneficial for all the major actors in Employee Relations, with the benefits of the application of this approach offsetting the detriments. More specifically, the paper examines the observation of the aspect of trade unionism in the US and Australia, illustrating the benefits and disadvantages of its application by country. The essay is divided into three sections, with the first section drawing attention to evidence, from US and Australia, regarding the advantages and disadvantages of employee relations, with relation to trade unions. Secondly, the paper explains the Unitarist approach towards employee relations, and finally, the essay explores the counterargument that a Unitarist approach is detrimental for all the major actors in employee relations.

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For human resource professionals, the Unitarist approach, otherwise known as Unitarism, is the approach towards employee relations where individuals in an organization are seen as a group sharing the same unitary outlook (Müller, 2000). Put simply, it is whereby management and employees, and other stakeholders share similar interests, objectives, and purposes; thus working together towards the achievement of these goals.

Trade Unions, on the other hand, are small organizations mainly consisting of the different actors in Employee Relations that aims their efforts towards the promotion and protection of the interests of all the members of these unions (Weber, 2011).


List of Topics to be covered

  1. Countries that have adopted the Unitarist approach to Employee Relations, more specifically, in trade unionism.

The US is one of the few states that have managed to successfully employ the unitarist approach to the advantage of company employees, employers and stakeholders. Over the years, the state’s trade unions have found ways in which they can use the concepts of unitarism to negotiate labour demands while maintaining a sense of competitiveness for organizations (Griswold, 2010).

Australia, on the other hand, has suffered from the application of this approach with what is expected to be a unionism of key actors in Employee Relations, resulting in massive deunionisation of those involved in the process (Wooden, 2010).

  1. Implications of employing the Unitarist approach to Employee Relations: Comparison between implementation in US and Australia.

The greatest implication of using the Unitarist approach to Employee Relations is the unification of all the players in Employee relations. This amalgamation is necessary for effective and efficient performance of the organization, thus the achievement of organizational goal and objectives (Müller, 2000).

  1. Benefits of using the Unitarist approach to Employee Relations: Perspectives from US and Australia.

The Unitarist approach to Employee Relations ensures better representation of the major actors of Employee Relations. In the US, for example, trades unions have been used to establish organizational approaches that are beneficial to all key players in industrial relations.

  1. Detriments of employing the Unitarist approach in Employee Relations: Perspective US and Australian perspectives.

Observably, in the US, Unitarism has been held responsible for the decrease in minimum wages and salaries for most industry employees (Devinatz, 2011). This illustrates how key players in Employee Relations can fashion organizational decisions for their own benefits.

Australia’s case is different with the Unitarist approach being blamed for the deunionisation of key players in employee relations, more specifically those in management positions (Barton & Broek, 2011).




Conclusively, it is evident that companies that have employed the Unitarist approach to Employee Relations have succeeded in their efforts towards attaining organizational goals and objectives. This approach to Employee Relations does not only promote profitability in the workplace, it also ensures that the  needs of all the major actors in Employee Relations are met.



Ackers, Peter; Wilkinson, Adrian (2003). Understanding Work and Employment: Industrial

Relations inTransition. Oxford University Press.

Barton, R. & Broek, D. (2011). Agency and the deunionisation of managers in an Australian

Telecommunication Company. Journal of management and Organization, 17(2): 210-236.

Devinatz, V. G. (2011). U.S. Trade Unionism Under Globalization: The death of Voluntarism

and the Turn to Politics. Labor Law Journal, 62(1): 16-31.

Gahan, P. (2009). Trade Unionism in Australia: A History from Flood to Ebb Tide. Labor and

Industry, 20(1): 111-114.

Griswold, D. (2010). Unions, Protectionism, and U.S. Competitiveness. Cato Journal, 30(1): 181

Kaufman, B. E. (2004). Theoretical Perspectives on Work and the Employment Relationship.

Industrial Relations Research Association.

Müller, M. (2000). Unitarism, Pluralism, and Human Resource Management in Germany. MIR:

Management International Review, 39(3): 125-144.

Sodhi, J. S. & Plowman, D. H. (2002). The Study of Industrial Relations: A Changing Field.

IndianJournal of Industrial Relations, 37(4): 459-485.

Weber, D. O. (2011). The State of the Unions. Physician Executive, 37(4): 4-13.

Wooden, M. (2010).  An Unfair Safety Net.  Australian Bulletin of Labor 36(3): 321-327.

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