Industrial relations and management style in small firms

2017-06-07T05:23:45Z (GMT) by Barrett, Rowena
In Australia the bulk of firms are small, while over one third of the Australian workforce is employed in small firms (ABS, 1996). The Australian case is consistent with that which occurs in many other economies. There are, however, only a few studies (Australian examples include: Callus, Kitay and Sutcliffe, 1992; Isaac, Kates, Peetz, Fisher, Macklin and Short, 1993; Isaac, 1993; Moorehead, Steele, Alexander, Stephen and Duffin, 1997) which address a range of industrial relations and management issues in small firms. In such studies small firms are generally defined primarily in terms of their size of employment. This has led to an assumption that employment size is a unifying property and, as such, an homogeneous small firm sector exists (Scott, 1986). When statistics are used that reveal a lack of industrial action and low unionisation in small firms (Australian examples include: Callus, Moorehead, Cully and Buchanan, 1991; Isaac et al., 1993; Moorehead, Steele, Alexander, Stephen and Duffin, 1997), the result is to attribute inherent industrial relations characteristics to small firms, particularly harmonious industrial relations (Rainnie, 1989; Schumacher, 1973).

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