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Volume 29 Issue 1 (January 2019), Pages i-iv, 1-96

When territory matters: Employer associations and changing collective goods strategies (pages 17-35)

Abstract Recent research shows employer associations strategically responding to external challenges, from collective bargaining decentralisation, by altering their offerings of “selective” goods (to directly address threats to membership levels) and of “elective” goods (to revenues). Implicit is that traditional “collective goods” are irrelevant for achieving sustainability. That literature also suggests that territorial associations are more vulnerable than sectoral ones. In this qualitative, longitudinal comparative case study, we explore why and how two territorial associations, the largest each in Italy and Australia, have pursued sustainability by also innovatively enlarging their collective goods activities. This has involved shifting from bargaining leadership to promoting economic dynamism within their territories. Using metaorganisation theory and the resource‐based view, we explain how these associations realised their strategic advantages. Our evidence suggests that innovatively developing new collective goods may be another important way associations can improve their competitive positions.

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