Testing a Behavioral Theory Model of Labor Negotiations
Article first published online: 1 MAY 2008
Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society
Volume 16, Issue 1, pages 35–50, February 1977
How to Cite
PETERSON, R. B. and TRACY, L. (1977), Testing a Behavioral Theory Model of Labor Negotiations. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 16: 35–50. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-232X.1977.tb00646.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2008
- Article first published online: 1 MAY 2008
The Behavioral Theory we have developed stands up well and helps us gain a better feeling for the behavioral dynamics of collective bargaining. As expected, economic variables such as bargaining power and the estimated cost and probability of a work stoppage are important determinants of bargaining behavior. Nevertheless, the variables have a differential effect on bargaining goals, with strong bargaining power and low probability of a strike contributing to both distributive and integrative bargaining, whereas high expected costs of a strike help to persuade constituents to support their negotiators (intraorganizational bargaining). Thus we see the roie of intraorganizational bargaining as an alternative to being able to obtain a better settlement from the opponents.
Attitudinal structuring seems to be more closely tied to integrative bargaining than was indicated by Walton and McKersie. Furthermore, there seems to be less direct conflict between the tactics used in integrative bargaining and those used in distributive bargaining than predicted by theory. Perhaps the mixed nature of most bargaining keeps the majority of negotiators from applying all-out distributive tactics. At any rate, strong bargaining power, constructive relationships, clear and specific statements of issues, as well as exploring them in a noncommital fashion, seem to aid both distributive and integrative bargaining.
We uncovered a number of relationships which varied significantly according to the side (labor or management) and/or team role (chief negotiator or other team member) of the respondent. Although we feel they should be included in the theory of bargaining as moderator variables, and have thus included them in our model, we have only hinted at their impact in this paper.
Overall, bargaining behavior and conditions seem to have as much effect on bargaining success as do the economic variables. Of course, we did not measure every possible economic variable, but neither did we examine all possible tactics. Our study confirms that collective bargaining is an interpersonal, attitudinal process as well as an economic one and that there are several distinct goals for the process. We have also demonstrated that, despite problems of locating current negotiations and obtaining an adequate rate of response, field study of the behavioral aspects of collective bargaining is feasible. We hope that investigations along this line will continue.