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Distributed leadership and employee cynicism: Trade unions as joint change agents

Abstract

The themes of change management and workplace partnership continue to attract significant academic interest—albeit within discreet literatures. Drawing on longitudinal, qualitative data in a heavy engineering organisation, this article details how a collaborative partnership between management and trade unions, encompassing a distributed leadership format, was configured to enhance organisational capacity for change in the context of significant employee cynicism. Bridging human resource management/organisational behaviour and industrial relations perspectives, the study makes a theoretical contribution to our understanding of the factors underpinning the successful implementation of workplace partnership and the utilisation of distributed leadership configurations. More generally, the work informs leadership theory through its scrutiny of distributed leadership in situations of high conflict.

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