Two Pathways of Union Leadership for Participation

By Marathe, Gaurav; Balasubramanian, Girish | Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, April 2013 | Go to article overview

Two Pathways of Union Leadership for Participation


Marathe, Gaurav, Balasubramanian, Girish, Indian Journal of Industrial Relations


Introduction

Union participation has been studied for many years. Union participation is about not only emotional involvement but also carrying out certain activities like supporting the union in ways ranging from more formal activities (e.g. attendance at meetings, voting in elections) to more informal activities (e.g. speaking well of the union to others, assisting others in the workplace) (Kelloway, Catano, & Caroll, 2000; Sayles & Strauss, 1953). Different antecedents of union participation have been studied ranging from members' attitude like union instrumentality, union commitment, union loyalty, and members' perceptions like perceived union support, perceived industrial relations climate, and their relation to the type of union leadership whether transformational or service leadership. The link between union participation, members' perception about the union and the union leadership has been established (Hammer & Wazeter, 1993). Further it was believed that the conceptual and empirical work on the psychology of leadership, attitudes and involvement in the unions would benefit from the increased knowledge about unions as institutions and with the additional knowledge of the industrial relations theory (Hammer, Bayazit & Wazeter, 2009). Union Leadership has been identified as one of the most important factors for union renewal (Levesque & Murray, 2006). Thus in this paper we are exploring how union leadership contributes to the participation of union members through his/her attitude formation. Fullagar, Clark, Gallagher, and Gordon (1994: 517) mentioned the increasing need for understanding the proximal explanation of leadership in explaining the attitude formation of the rank and file by stating that "little has been done to understand the process of attitude formation and the way in which attitudes toward unions are shaped"; this gap still exists. Therefore, in this paper the linkage of leadership--attitude formation through the connection of "four human drives" is being explored (Lawrence, 2010).This paper makes three important contributions to union leadership literature. Firstly, this is an attempt to integrate transactional and transformational leaderships to examine their effects on union participation through two different paths namely union commitment and union instrumentality. Secondly this is the first time that a closer study of underlying drives in human motivation and decision making have been done to establish the linkage between union leadership and union member attitude formation and union participation. Thirdly this study also elaborates the effect of favorable industrial relations climate on each style of union leadership and its consequences on union participation.

Two Pathways

Members' participation in union has been emphasized as one of the key outcome variables in industrial relation studies. Different studies have tried to establish the link for explaining the participation of members in union activities. For the explanation of union participation researchers have tested the attitude formation (union commitment and union instrumentality) of rank and file (Bamberger, Kluger & Suchard, 1999; Fullagar, 1986; Fullagar & Barling, 1989; Gordon et. al, 1980; Kelloway & Barling, 1993; Kelly & Kelly, 1994; Thacker, Fields, & Barclay, 1990). Few studies have even taken this further to explain the process through effect of leadership i.e. leadership leading to attitude formation of rank and file and that results into participation of union members (Batstone, Boratson & Frenkel, 1977; Clark, 1988; Hammer et al., 2009; Metocchi, 2002; Nicholson, Ursell & PBlyton, 1981; Peck, 1963). Clearly two separate pathways can be identified from literature review, one passing through 'union instrumentality (transactional) to union participation' and the other passing through 'union commitment (affective) to union participation'.

Sayles and Strauss (1953) proved that union participation is affected by not only union instrumentality but also union commitment. …

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