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Unitarist Approach: Definition and Characteristics

Businesses in Singapore are often portrayed as adopting a “unitarist” rather than a “pluralist” attitude to employment relations.  Is this justified or are times changing?  Illustrate your arguments with contemporary examples?

Unitarist approach is identified the every organization as an integrated where all employees are working for common purpose. Common purpose is made with the cooperation of the all staff members where management as well as other members of the staff have the same goal to attain the target which emphasizes the mutual cooperation. Moreover, unitarist is considered as the paternalistic approach where it focuses on the loyalty of the employees. Subsequently, trade unions are considered as irrelevant since the loyalty between employees and organizations are deemed equally restricted. It has been analyzed that within the corporate environment, there are invisible connections between workforces, objectives of the organization and the employee relations.

According to Singapore Workforce, (2015), millions and billions are being spent by many organizations to improve and foster the infrastructure of the organization. There are number of theories and frameworks which are applied by many organizations as per their requirement. These theories are unitarist, pluralist and radicalism. Similarly, the essay will elaborate that why businesses in Singapore are depicted unitarist in comparison of pluralist attitude to employment relations (Thunnissen, Boselie & Fruytier, 2013). As per the HRM theory, the attitude of pluralist in the setting of the organization shows the situation where various kinds of individuals symbolize different groups with different interest. It would not be possible that the entire group have the same interest and power to attain the target. Pluralist theory indicates the allocation of the power in several hands. portray On the contrary, the unitarist theory indicates that the organization has the common goal for which it delegates the responsibility to the team and the group to attain it which shows that each and every member are on the same pitch (Leat, 2009).

There is a different point of view regarding unitary approach. In the point of view of employee, the unitary approach means that the practices of working should be flexible. The employees of the organization get support from the high authority if they feel that they are facing some issues within the organization (Leat, 2009).  In the point of view of employer, the unitary approach means that the policies of the organization should be maintained in proper manner so that the employees get inspired and motivated. Under this approach, line managers of the organization take their responsibilities to manage the team in an adequate manner. On the other hand pluralist approach recognizes that conflicts is intrinsic in the organization and can be accommodated by numerous arrangements of institutional. The implication of pluralist approach is that union recognition must be motivated. There are so many organizations in Singapore that have adopted the unitarist approach because the major strength of the approach is that it unambiguously wants to incorporate with the interest of employee as well as employer, so that the commitment and loyalty of the employee can be amplified.

Pluralist Attitude: Definition and Characteristics


Every coin has two aspects which show the strength and the weakness. The strength of unitarist approach is emphasized the role of the managers in achieving the win-win situations not only for organization but also for the employees. Managers are required to go beyond their managerial styles for maintaining the employment relations. It has been evaluated that the influencing leaders are able to control the demand for trade unions. In the circumstance of unitarist approach, the employee and the employer accomplish the task within their own interest for attaining the common goal. Management of the organization is considered as the only authority which takes independent decisions of their business without being hampered by workers, unions and government. The economy of Singapore is fabricated of industrial relation system and production system. Both systems are dependent of one another as the role of industrial relation system is important in the contribution of the production system (Leggett, 2005).

It has been evaluated that the industrialization has been interlinked with the industrial conflict. Business Jargons, (n.d.), mentioned that the kind of strikes of specific country is connected with the industrial relations system of the country. Singapore is the country where the involvement of the government is important to develop the economy of the Singapore. The government has put lots of efforts to attract more and more foreign talent Singapore would not be able to punch above its weight if it remains dependent on home population. It has been recognized that there are major four phases where institutionalisation is concerned about the conflict. The first phase against behaviour towards negotiation of trade unions and focus is on individuals. It can be unplanned. Business restructuring comes under second phase in which the businesses reconstruct themselves to being opposed of trade unions. Third phase is related to the effective mediating stage whereas the viewpoints of trade unions are overruled diplomatically in the phase of fourth. At the stage of last phase, tactics are developed by unions to advance into institutions. They also involved in the conflict resolutions and labour contract.

It has been evaluated that the conflict can be determined by dividing the political power. The trade union of Singapore has a unique relationship with the government. Unitarist approach helps business to move ahead by taking one common goal while pluralist approach have concerned about the people and it thinks that everyone has different responsibilities and skills (Aron, 2011). Different expectations of the employee may lead the business in to conflict zone. The unitary industrial relations practioner might ‘make the effective idea for pluralist idea’ but it is vital to maintain the segments of unitary and behave in proper manner. There are some economic factors which show that the changing models of conflicts are because of variable range of wages of different workers. As per Wood & Horwitz, (2015), there are major four factors labour concentration, size of the organization, income and the dominance of women which considered the differences in conflicts. There is numerous way of handling the successful employment relations that has adopted the unitarist approach. Initially the management can focus on giving the financial incentives so that the interest of employee can be integrated. Various kind of profit sharing can be stressed by management that are made ensure that chance should be given to the every employee of the organization to have a financial stake in the business (Williams & Adam-Smith, 2010).

Comparison between Unitarist and Pluralist Attitudes towards Employment Relations

Behind the adoption of unitarist approach is that it assist employee to get participated in the decision of the business and it include the various approaches of empowering and participatory for managing the workplace so that the employees of the organization feel that they have huge latitude to control their work processes and consequences. The worker contribution can be amplified due to worker empowerment and participation (Greenwood & Van Buren, 2017). The management of the organization under unitarist approach concentrates on the proper use of high performance or progressing in domains of training, selection, rewards, job designs and communications so that organization can increase the productivity of the employee and develop the upper levels of employee commitment and satisfaction. Trade unions are considered as the employees of legitimate representatives. Collective bargaining is the major reason of conflict. There is a huge responsibility for conflict in comparison of harmony. Singapore’s business has adopted the unitarist approach because the aim of their business is to work together with employees. The ratio of conflicts is lesser due to mutual understanding about the common goal of the organization between employees. The contribution of employer in the working style of employees is less (Bingham, 2016).

Conclusion

In the limelight of above discussion, it can be concluded that the management can deal with different kind of theories or frame when dealing with employee relations. The essay has focused on major two perspectives such as unitarist and pluralist. Unitarist theory has depicted by Singapore’s business and it assumes that there is one source that is leadership and the conflict of the organization can be avoided by aligning individual and organizational interest. Trade unions are being neglected by unitarist approach. On the other hand pluralist approach believes that conflicts within the organization can be managed. The businesses of Singapore are preferred for unitarist approach instead of pluralist approach because time is changing. Organization has become more advanced and it makes ready its employee to attain the common goal and for this it has initiated to provide the training to the employee so that they can attain the common goal.

References

Aron, (2011). Difference Between Unitarism and Pluralism. Retrieved on 12th March, 2018, from: https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-unitarism-and-vs-pluralism/.

Bingham, C. (2016). Employment Relations: Fairness and Trust in the Workplace. Sage.

Business Jargons, (n.d.). Approaches to Industrial Relations. Retrieved on 12th March, 2018, from: https://businessjargons.com/approaches-to-industrial-relations.html.

Greenwood, M., & Van Buren, H. J. (2017). Ideology in HRM scholarship: Interrogating the ideological performativity of ‘New Unitarism’. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(4), 663-678.

Leat, M. (2009). Exploring employee relations. London, UK, Routledge.               

Leggett, C. (2005). The fourth transformation of Singapore’s industrial relations. Reworking, 347.

Singapore Workforce, (2015). Statistics and Publications. Retrieved on 12th March, 2018, from: https://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/press-releases/2015/1130-singapore-workforce-2015.

Thunnissen, M., Boselie, P., & Fruytier, B. (2013). Talent management and the relevance of context: Towards a pluralistic approach. Human Resource Management Review, 23(4), 326-336.

Williams, S., & Adam-Smith, D. (2010). Contemporary employment relations: A critical introduction. Oxford University Press.

Wood, G., & Horwitz, F. (2015). Theories and institutional approaches to HRM and employment relations in selected emerging markets. Handbook of human resource management in emerging markets, 19-41.

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