Elgar Introduction to Theories of Human Resources and Employment Relations
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Elgar Introduction to Theories of Human Resources and Employment Relations

Edited by Keith Townsend, Kenneth Cafferkey, Aoife M. McDermott and Tony Dundon

This Elgar Introduction provides an overview of some of the key theories that inform human resource management and employment relations as a field of study.
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Chapter 3: Neo-pluralism as a research approach in contemporary employment relations and HRM: complexity and dialogue

Peter Ackers


Classical pluralism focused on free trade unions and collective bargaining institutions as the liberal-democratic ‘voice’ alternative to both pro-business unitarism and anti-capitalist radicalism. The decline of these institutions under neo-liberalism, the rise of managerial HRM and Employee Involvement and the growing role of women in the economy have all called for a neo-pluralist rethinking of the old theoretical approach. This has embraced recent policy initiatives, such as union-management partnership and family-friendly policies. Pluralism also faces new challenges from identity politics and a growing hostility to open academic debate. This chapter goes back to the roots of political pluralism in social democratic, liberal and social theory, to argue that free dialogue in the workplace and society is a central pluralist contribution to Employment Relations and HRM.

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