The dynamics of strategic negotiations : a case study of the New Zealand Fire Service industrial dispute

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Commerce
University of Canterbury
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Hartill, Kristie Louise

This thesis considers the effect of the increasingly dynamic and competitive business environment on employment negotiations. International trends in collective bargaining have resulted in unions and employers negotiating employment contracts in a context that has become progressively hostile to the union institution. However, the hostile nature of management-union interactions has not precluded negotiations from progressing to impasse in the form of an industrial dispute. It does however, render the phenomena of protracted industrial disputes anomalous in contemporary employment relations. The purpose of this research is to investigate the applicability and relevance of extant collective bargaining and negotiations theory to the experience of an industrial dispute. It is propounded that most of the literature pertaining to negotiations is based on brief, or normal periods of negotiations. Thus, the research questions guiding this study engender the extrapolation of the literature to an extended dispute. To this end, Walton, Cutcher-Gershenfeld and McKersie's (1994) model of strategic negotiations has been applied to the dynamics of the New Zealand Fire Service industrial dispute. This was achieved through the qualitative analysis of the Fire Service in a case study design. The primary sources of data were documents and archive records, and interviews with key informants. The analysis of this dispute proffered the conclusion that existing negotiations theory is valuable in explaining the dynamics of a prolonged industrial dispute in the complexities of contemporary employment relations. Furthermore, propositions from the theory enabled a consideration of the relationship between strategic choice and dispute duration, providing pertinent implications for industrial relations policy and practice.

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