Civil society organizations and the exercise of power in the employment relationship

Brian Abbott, E. Heery, Stephen Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper seeks to focus on civil society organizations (CSOs) and their capacity to exercise power in the employment relationship. In particular, the paper is concerned with identifying the sources of power, how it is exercised and whether CSOs can exert pressure on other employment actors despite their apparent lack of resources possessed by more established representative structures. Findings are based on 139 completed postal questionnaires and 47 interviews, primarily face-to-face, across 34 different CSOs. Adopting a resource dependence framework suggests that CSOs have the capacity to exercise power and influence key employment actors. However, the power of CSOs is undermined by the absence of an internal organizational presence, making it difficult to mobilize workers. The research highlights the role of an often-ignored employment actor. To provide further insights further research is needed to garner the views of other employment participants. In employee relations discussions of workplace power have typically focused on the power of the state, employers and trade unions. This paper adopts a novel angle by exploring the role of CSOs and their ability to exercise power.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)91-107
    Number of pages17
    JournalEmployee Relations
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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