Rewarding Relationships: A Study of the Interaction of Employment Relationships and Employee Rewards Systems in Two Unionised Private Sector Organisations

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This study investigates the interactions between the employment relationship and the employee rewards system. There is an implied and broadly accepted connection between these aspects of organisational life, yet the connection has not been clearly developed within either the employment relations or employee rewards literature. Employment relations research commonly prioritises certain features: organisational context; parties’ ideologies; processes concerning the interaction of the parties; and outcomes of the relationship. This study attempts to be located in this tradition: it regards rewards as an outcome of the employment relationship. However, whilst many studies of this type have tended to emphasise the interaction of isolated features, this study attempts to theorise the nature of the interactions between the reward outcomes and the other features of the relationship in a holistic manner. The study begins from an ontologically realist view of the employment relationship and employee rewards; however, it also acknowledges that these social facts are interpreted by parties, and that these interpretations are significant. The study adopts many of the features of mainstream employment relations research, reflected in a pluralist theoretical perspective. A predominantly inductive, multi-method, case study research strategy is utilised, focussing upon two unionised, private sector, manufacturing organisations. Data is collected from the parties to the employment relationship using research instruments derived from two primary conceptual models: Walton & McKersie’s (1965) behavioural bargaining framework, and Gomez-Mejia and Balkin’s (1992) algorithmic-experiential model of rewards. Analysis of this data indicates substantial commonality between the cases and suggests a complex set of interactions between the features of the employment relationship and employee reward outcomes. Key findings indicate the importance of understanding parties’ reward preferences as they provide insight regarding: the formulation of parties’ ideologies; the effectiveness of processes; and the interpretation of reward outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
  • Fenwick, John, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2010


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