Better than nothing? is non-union partnership a contradiction in terms?

Stewart Johnstone, Peter Ackers, Adrian Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Though the notion of union-management partnership commands an extensive body of literature, little is known about non-union partnership arrangements. This article addresses the relatively unexplored issue of non-union partnership through a detailed case study of WebBank, a British Internet bank. Three main themes are explored. First, we seek to understand more about the meaning of - and rationale for - partnership in non-union settings. Second, we explore the operation of non-union partnership in practice. Finally, we evaluate the effectiveness of non-union partnership from the perspectives of various organizational actors. The article suggests that in judging the effectiveness of a partnership arrangement, or indeed any voice regime more generally, there is a need to re-consider the benchmarks for success, and to place them in the context of contemporary employment relations. The evidence suggests that it would be deeply unhelpful and inaccurate to dismiss a non-union partnership a priori as a 'contradiction in terms'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-168
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Industrial Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • employee voice
  • industrial relations
  • non-unionism
  • partnership


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