Mobilising workers within inter-organisational relationships in the UK voluntary sector

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This article assesses the prospects for union membership growth in the UK voluntary sector. It examines the efforts of workplace activists to defend terms and conditions and recruit and retain members in two voluntary organisations in the context of the sector's close relationship with external state funding and regulatory bodies. The study confirms the importance of workplace activists in contributing to successful mobilisation. It also finds, however, that differences in inter-organisational relations between the two organisations and state funding bodies that are shaped by product markets and competition are pivotal in explaining the variability in outcomes for union mobilisation efforts. The article has wider significance in telling us more about why union campaigns in areas of the economy characterised by close supply chain relations succeed or fail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-211
Number of pages20
JournalIndustrial Relations Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • voluntary sector
  • employment
  • human resource management
  • workers
  • workplace activists


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