In the book “Striking a balance” by Budd, J. (2010). (3rd Ed.). Chapter 7 – talks about the understanding of contemporary approaches to collective bargaining. Also the following the website...

In the book “Striking a balance” by Budd, J. (2010). (3rd Ed.). Chapter 7 – talks about the understanding of contemporary approaches to collective bargaining. Also the following the website Interest-Based Bargaining: Are you looking for an alternative to traditional collective bargaining?

Answer the following by discussing the merits of interest-based bargaining and compare it to positional bargaining and the challenges faced by parties if they elect to move to interest-based bargaining.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is much to admire within the notion of interest- based bargaining.  It is a progressive approach to solving issues that might mushroom into labor disputes.  It ensures that there is a focus on resolving issues and ensuring that there is a clear and effective partnership between labor unions and management. It is a situational philosophy.  Even the most zealous of its advocates would suggest that it can only work in specific situations. One prerequisite which must be in place for it to find success is that labor and management are able to put aside the notion of "winning."  The interest- based bargaining perspective functions when both sides see negotiation as solving a problem.  The negotiations are not about "winning" as much as they are about solving an issue that impacts all stakeholders.  There must be a willingness to depersonalize context, remove a specific focus on past transgressions, and not be bound by a particular timetable.  Finally, all members of the representative constituencies must embrace the focus on addressing an issue and not end up zeroing in the political or perceptional issues within the negotiations.  

The interest- based perspective has many attributes to it.  There are some distinct elements that distance it from a positional bargaining perspective .  At the same time, though, Budd would view some challenges with implementing it in the modern workplace setting.  I think that Budd would see some distinct challenges that parties would face in order to make the move to interest- based bargaining.  Most of these reside in the conditions needed to make the paradigm successful.  For example, Budd would argue that one of the basic elements behind all relationships that seek to define labor and management are realities concerning universal human values:  "Labor relations is not about work rules. Human resources and industrial relations processes and work rules are means to more fundamental ends or objectives. What are these objectives? In my view, these objectives are efficiency, equity, and voice."  Interest based bargaining works when negotiations are framed as solving a central issue that both parties see as evident.  Budd's understanding of universal philosophical premises that underscore the relationship between labor and management suggests that voice is being challenged and inhibited, casting those in the position of power in an adversarial position even before "problem solving" has commenced.

At the same time, Budd suggests that modern unions are important because "the industrial democracy dimension of voice suggests that a collective voice component is necessary while the self- determination dimension implies that individualized voice mechanisms are also important." This reveals that there are many different and nuanced elements to the bargaining process and the collective bargaining entity.  Interest based bargaining works best when there is an open acceptance from both negotiating body and constituency of a distinct set of problems that have to be addressed and solved.  In Budd's understanding of unions, it is difficult to find singularity and unity if voice exists on both individual and collective levels and can emerge in either or both.  This plurality makes it difficult to emerge with a clear acceptance of the specific interests in interest- based bargaining.  

Another challenge that parties face if they move to interest based bargaining is in the notion of "winning."  Budd feels that modern management is experiencing a trend of success because labor unions are less likely to call for a strike in the modern setting:  "Employees have become more fearful of losing their jobs and less willing to call a strike to begin with."  Such hesitancy on the part of the union membership is perceived as a success to management.  This notion of "winning" takes away from the Interest Based Approach to bargaining that clearly indicates that the binary construction of "win" or "lost" has to be shed in order to understand that a fundamental issue that impacts all has to be addressed. These represent strikes "losing ground" and management interpreting such a reality as a success, a form of "winning."  

In these ideas, it becomes clear that while interest based bargaining is enticing and features many attributes, the condition of the modern workplace presents fundamental challenges in being able to embrace it as a guiding paradigm for negotiation between labor and management.