Employer Association Responses to the Effects of Bargaining Decentralization in Australia and Italy: Seeking Explanations from Organizational Theory



The literature has neglected to analyse employer associations as organizations facing potential environmental threats to their financial sustainability. We examine associations' responses to collective bargaining decentralization, a major, contemporary threat. Using a qualitative, comparative case approach, we examine eight associations — four each in Australia and Italy — to develop a model of response types. Stronger decentralization effects increase associations' exposure to new and heightened competition, which in turn produces stronger association responses. These include prioritizing commercial over associational objectives. We analyse responses using strategic choice and resource dependence theories, finding that associations use both. However, the decision how to combine them reflects environmental conditions as well as choices linking organizational purpose and financial sustainability.