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Inside the Unions

A Comparative Analysis of Policy-Making in Australian and British Printing and Telecommunication Trade Unions


Ed Blisset

This book consists of a comparative analysis of policy-making in Australian and British telecommunications and printing trade unions. It tests the validity of different theoretical models of union policy-making and behaviour, whilst also assessing the strength of the book’s hypothesis, that informal micro-political influences inside unions – such as personal friendships, enmities and loyalties – affect union policy-making to a greater extent than has been previously acknowledged in the literature.
Two central questions lie at the heart of this book: How, and why, do unions adopt specific policies? What factors explain the different behaviour of similar unions, when faced with comparable policy choices?
As a former senior union officer the author realised that trade unions are often wary of publically disclosing those factors which informed their policy choices. For this reason an interview-rich methodology was adopted, which involved a seventeen-year longitudinal study, in which over 220 officers and staff of all the relevant unions, were interviewed in depth. The result is a book which throws new light on the rich and complex process of union policy-making.


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Chapter 13 Conclusion


At the outset this book sought to answer two central questions: How, and why, do unions adopt specific policies? What factors explain the dif ferent behaviour of similar unions, when faced with comparable policy choices? In order to assist in gaining answers to these questions, the following sub- sidiary questions were posed: Who makes policy? How is policy formed? How is policy implemented? What are the internal and external inf luences on policy makers? How successful were the policies the unions adopted? In attempting to answer these questions this book also sought to test the hypothesis, which had been developed whilst I was working as a BIFU National Of ficer, that micro-political factors, such as personal friendships, loyalties and enmities, af fect policy-making to a far greater extent than has been acknowledged in the literature. In order to address these questions and assess the validity of the hypoth- esis, a detailed study of policy-making in the Australian and British telecom- munications and printing unions was undertaken. This research, which is set out in chapters 4–11, provides a rich source of evidence, from which it has been possible to answer the research questions, test the validity of the hypothesis, and to juxtapose the research findings against existing theories of policy-making. In this concluding chapter the key findings of the research are highlighted, whilst the wider implications for the union movement are contemplated, and the implications for the policy-making literature are considered. The first significant finding of this book relates to...

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