An assessment of the relationship between management education and attitudes towards industrial relations and trade unionism

Richert, Andrew (1986) An assessment of the relationship between management education and attitudes towards industrial relations and trade unionism. Masters thesis, Lancashire Polytechnic.

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The research topic arose following the author'Th observations of tutor—student interaction in the subject area of Industrial
Relations. Fellow students held hostile attitudes towards trade unions, yet the tutor was committed to the encouragement of an understanding and acceptance of trade union activities in accord with the pluralist emphasis of Industrial Relations teaching. The research project therefore seeks to establish information on management student attitudes towards industrial relations and trade unions, and to evaluate the impact of management education in changing student attitudes towards trade unions.
Some 108 current and previous students of the DM8 and 1PM courses were interviewed at the commencement, completion, or some time after completion of their courses. Additional interviews were conducted with 1PM, BIM and CNAA officials, and with IR tutors. Also participation observation was undertaken in management classes.
Firstly, the results confirm previously reported findings showing management hostility towards trade unions at a general level, while at a workplace level favourable attitudes towards trade union representatives are recorded. 1PM respondents demonstrated less hostile attitudes towards trade unions than did DM3 respondents, and this too confirms a distinction noted in previous research between the personnel and other managerial functions.
Secondly, the results indicate that students are marginally less hostile towards trade unions on completion of their management courses suggesting that management education may have an impact upon attitudes. However, appropriate post—course consolidating employment experience or experience gained in conjunction with study, particularly experience of the personnel function, is associated with a further decrease in hostile attitudes.
Additional findings extend present knowledge of the wider conceptions and characteristics, and employment and interaction patterns of managers and aspiring managers. Finally, the implications the study results have for management education in the subject area of Industrial Relations are considered, and five aspects are highlighted which may lead to more positive
attitudes towards trade unions in industrial relations students.

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