Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Dynamics of Strategic Militant Managerialism: Analysis of a "Strike"

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Dynamics of Strategic Militant Managerialism: Analysis of a "Strike"

Article excerpt

Conceptual Foundations

One hundred and eleven hours and forty-five minutes between the midnight of September 7/8 and mid afternoon of September 13, 2009 saw an action packed drama which gripped one of India's private airlines which had assiduously built up the image of a truly world class airline with state of art aircrafts, skilled pilots, professional cabin crew and commercial staff and use of modern technology for efficient customer interface and service quality. Given the standing of the airline in the Indian civil aviation firmament and the sheer audacity of the action by the pilots of the airline and the equally aggressive reaction by the airline management, the 5 day industrial relations thriller was covered extensively and in depth by the electronic and print media making it possible for the independent observers and researchers to get a fairly accurate picture of what transpired during the live action. Another major advantage from a research angle was the incredibly candid articulation of the viewpoints on various issues by the stakeholders engaged in the action. The media coverage combined with the candid expression of views helped in reconstruction of the emotions and the thinking behind the actions which forms the basis of this analysis and interpretation of the event to gain insights into the dynamics of industrial relations in a liberalized, marketized contemporary context.

This case provided an understanding of managerial response patterns in the context of turbulent industrial relations, where the need for engaging with dilemmas in a more humanist way (Battisti & Eiselen 2008) comes into direct conflict with the challenge of market survival in a recession ridden, high operations cost environment. Before dissecting the case narrative which forms the basis of this study, an attempt could be made to develop a theoretical perspective to facilitate analysis and interpretation of the contours of managerialism in the context of turbulent industrial relations. Disputes among stakeholders in industrial relations occur when differences arise over issues. As the engagement unfolds, the issue gets articulated initially in the form of positions taken by each of the stakeholders on the issues on the table. Positions are but explicit expressions of stakeholder interests related to the issues. It is the pattern underlying this episode which this paper wishes to capture, conceptualize and critique.

First, a brief description of the Principled Negotiations approach within which the Positions-Interests analysis of issues has been developed (Fisher-Ury-Patton Model of Principled Negotiations 1991):

* Stakeholder Relationship dynamics influences the definition and articulation of issues in a disputes situation

* The ability to address issues with a clear stream of reason gets further affected by stakeholders taking rigid and often inflexible positions on issues leading to destructive and denigrative communication in stakeholder exchanges

* Finding sustainable solutions in spite of stakeholder differences on issues requires veering away from a positional approach towards exploring interests underlying the differences.

* The process of finding sustainable solutions will be further strengthened if solution options are generated around all the interests of the stakeholders rather than just one's own interests.

* Wise outcomes become even more feasible if the options generated are evaluated based on independent and objective standards and criteria.

* Incumbent on the stakeholders is the need for always seeking alternatives to the present arrangements and pursuits as a walk away avenue in order to avoid getting short changed.

The key to the Principled Negotiations Method is the concept of interests. Wise agreements flow from exploring stakeholder interests, rather than through a creativity sapping focus on positions. "Your position is something you have decided upon. …

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