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Workplace partnership and professional workers: 'about as useful as a chocolate teapot'?

Danford, Andy; Durbin, Sue; Richardson, Mike; Stewart, Paul; Tailby, Stephanie


Andy Danford

Susan Durbin
Professor in Human Resource Management

Mike Richardson

Paul Stewart

Stephanie Tailby


The labour processes and employment relations that characterise the working conditions of many professional workers might be expected to generate the high-trust environment required for cooperative, partnership-style management-union relations. However, few studies have focused on partnership in 'professional' and 'expert labour' employment sectors. This paper assesses the efficacy of partnership through the lens of manager, union and employee attitudes at three cases studies notable for employing high numbers of staff in the professions and 'marginal professions'. The analysis focuses on the nature of the cooperative relationship between union representatives and management (categorised as either 'nurtured' or 'coerced partnership'), whether unions in these settings are able to expand the range and scope of their influence, and whether professional workers themselves display positive attitudes to cooperative union forms. The study finds that in all three cases the 'partnership' union is seen by its members as a weak, insubordinate entity in terms of collective influence over management policy though in the two 'nurturing' cases they see it to be more effective for individual member representation. © 2014 © 2013 Taylor & Francis.


Danford, A., Durbin, S., Richardson, M., Stewart, P., & Tailby, S. (2014). Workplace partnership and professional workers: 'about as useful as a chocolate teapot'?. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(6), 879-894.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2013
Online Publication Date Oct 30, 2013
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Journal International Journal of Human Resource Management
Print ISSN 0958-5192
Electronic ISSN 1466-4399
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 6
Pages 879-894
Keywords cooperative trade unions,
expert labour,
mutual gain,
professional workers
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