Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2019-04-26

To be or not to be unionized? A social dilemma perspective on worker decisions to support union organizing

Document type Article
Author Cardador, M. Teresa
Author Grant, Brandon C.
Author Lamare, J. Ryan
Author Northcraft, Gregory B.
Journal Human Resource Management Review
Volume 27
Date 2017 09
ISSN 1053-4822
Pages 554-568

Abstract

A worker's decision whether or not to support union organizing remains a critical and timely issue for American workers. We draw on the union organizing, organizational psychology, and social dilemma literatures to offer new insight into a worker's decision whether or not to support union organizing efforts. In particular, we highlight three specific conditions – social uncertainty, environmental uncertainty, and exposure – that make the decision whether or not to support union organizing a social dilemma, and describe how these should be expected to vary by union organizing stage. We also examine the effects of key contingencies: management opposition that exacerbates, and strategic union efforts that counteract, the effects of social dilemmas. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of viewing union organizing from a social dilemma perspective.