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Pluralist and the System Theories sample essay

In the essay below I will try to unveil and discuss the view that in the modern societies the pluralist and the system theories are the mostly widely used theories to explain employment relationships.

Industrial relations refer to processes and outcomes involving employment relationships. The term industrial relations is usually used for employment relationships involving collective representation of employees in the form of a labor union or employee association, especially in the modern societies, Bendix(2000). Industrial Relation is a relation between employer and employees, employees and employees and employees and trade unions.

And the “process by which people and their organizations interact at the place of work to establish the terms and conditions of employment”. In modern societies , the term industrial relations is used to cover such aspects of industrial life as trade unionism, collective, bargaining, workers’ participation in management, discipline, grievance handling, industrial disputes and interpretation of labor laws and rules and code of conduct, Armstrong(2006). There are various approaches in industrial relations like the system and pluralist approaches.

A system is basically a combination of parts and subsystems. Each part may have various subparts. Parts and sub parts of the system are mutually related to each other. The systems approach had been formulated by Dunlop in 1985. In Dunlop’s approach, an industrial relations system at any one time in its development is regarded as comprised of certain actors, certain contexts, an ideology, which binds the industrial relations system together, and a body of rules created to govern the actors at the workplace and work community.

The systems approach was quite helpful in studying the industrial relations that is it focuses on participants in the process, environment forces and output. The systems approach states that none of these institutions could not act in an autonomous or independent. Instead they were shaped at least to some extent by their market, technological and political contexts.

The basic elements of system approach are, participants in the system, workers and the organization, Management and their representatives, government agencies, environmental forces, technological characteristics, market or economic constraints, the locus and balance of power existing in a society, the output is the result of interaction of parties of the system which is manifested in the network of rules, country labor policy and labor agreements, that facilitates fair deal to workers.

The Dunlop’s model gives great significance to external or environmental forces. In other words, management, labor, and the government possess a shared ideology that defines their roles within the relationship and provides stability to the system. The theory assumes the use of a biological analogue saying organization are just like cells that require food and combine with own chemistry and converts into energy then it survives. Similarly cells were related to inputs which are being processed into outputs.

The pluralist approach focus is on the resolution of conflict rather than its generation, or, in the words of the pluralist, on ‘the institutions of job regulation.’ Kerr is one of the important exponents of pluralism. According to him, the social environment is an important factor in industrial conflicts. The isolated masses of workers are more strike-prone as compared to dispersed groups. When industrial jobs become more pleasant and employees’ get more integrated into the wider society, strikes will become less frequent. The pluralistic ideology accepts that an enterprise contains people with a variety of different interests, aims and aspirations; it is therefore a coalition of different interests rather than the embodiment of one common goal.

The problem of the government of plural society is not to unify, integrate or liquidate sectional groups and their special interests in the name of some overriding corporate existence, but ot control and balance the activities of the constituent groups so as to provide for maximum degree of freedom of association and action for sectional and group purposes consistent with the general interest of the society as conceived, with support of public opinion by those responsible for government.

The pluralist acknowledge the existence of a limited level of confliction interests at workplace and views the organization as miniature of democratic state with sectional interest of divergent groups which the government tries to maintain some dynamic equilibrium, Fox(1996).The pluralist goes on to argue that employees and managers have sectional interest which are legitimately recognized .

The pluralist criticize the assumption of a unified team with management or managerial authority which is based on class conflict .the management pursues the effectiveness of organization and achievement of goals .employees pursue own sectional interest and bitterness of terms and conditions of their employment,. The existence of these sectional groups with divergent interests signals potential conflict over sharing scarce resources, Salamon (2000)

Furthermore, the pluralists argue that the institutions of democracy operates to resolve the differences that occur between management and labour ,this result in the existence of a common set of rules and procedures determining behavior in workplace . The behavior is then controlled to meet the major objectives of the organizational entity .the pluralist also emphasizes that the different parties have assumed equal power and influence and compete for power , this competition causes all the parties to fight for the existing resources which sometimes leads to industrial actions .

In addition, the pluralist views is flexible because it allows for adaptation for complexity environment and allows for ideological tolerance, that is the values, interest, beleaves and norms, so trade unions leaders are vied as necessary because they represent the legitimate constituency in the organizations .as the result conflict is being viewed as normal because of scarcity of resources in organizations. So the pluralist viewed conflict as normal and permanent.

To sum the above discussion, all these characteristics and assumptions causes many organization to adopt the theories but there is no organization who adopt one theory but they borrow concepts in relation to their situations. They most probably mix up those favorable to their ethics either from system or pluralist.

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