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A person’s ‘frame of reference’ influences the way they understand organizations. As a result, several theoretical perspectives have been developed by scholars in the field of industrial relations to help understand organizations. According to Cradden (2011), the three notable theoretical views that have been developed are the unitarist, pluralist, and radical perspectives.
Each of the perspectives demonstrates particular views of workforce relations; thus, they give different explanations regarding conflicts arising in the workplace and the role played by worker’s unions in organizations (Cradden 2011). This paper shows how the unitarist, pluralist, and radical perspectives can be applied to Etihad Airways.
According to Combe (2014), an organization that adopts the unitarist perspective is viewed as an integrated system. There is the assumption that the top executives and all other subordinate staffs are motivated by equal interests and objectives. When a firm uses the unitarist perspective, all the employees are perceived as loyal to the organization. Consequently, the forming and joining trade unions are opposed actively (Aswathappa 2007).
The unitary theory would fit well at Etihad Airways in many ways. For instance, Etihad Airways is under the authority of the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) government, which does not support the creation of trade unions. Therefore, all the employees working at the Etihad should be united to realize the goals that the management sets to be achieved over a particular period.
An employee working at the Etihad Airways can adopt the unitarist perspective to help them become proactive, multi-skilled, and flexible. It can help the employee to fit into different situations that may arise while on duty. Also, the employees would be encouraged to contribute to the organization’s decision-making process. The top executives at Etihad Airways can promote unity and harmony in the organization by applying the unitarist view.
First-line managers utilizing this perspective can be more responsible for their actions. Managers can also design mechanisms to recognize and reward successful employees in a move to retain them and promote unity at Etihad Airways. On the other hand, the Etihad’s employees may not have a chance to voice their grievances, as doing so may be viewed as a sign of disunity and a threat to a harmonious existence in the organization.
According to Aswathappa (2007), an organization that operates under the pluralist perspective is viewed as having many different sub-groups. Therefore, workers’ unions are allowed to represent the employees. In the eyes of a pluralist, various conflicts arising in an organization are considered as normal and as a means through which positive change can be realized.
The adoption of the pluralist perspective at the Etihad Airways could have different implications. For instance, various trade unions could spring up and stir conflicts between the managers and employees. These unions could defend the rights of the members to a point where several collective bargaining agreements could be needed between the Etihad Airways and the trade unions.
The use of arbitration could be adopted to offer amicable solutions when disputes arise. According to Combe (2014), a pluralist perspective is widely recognised than a unitarist perspective because organisations use their power to ensure that neither the employer nor the employee suppresses the other.
According to Combe (2014), the radical perspective views industrial conflicts as pertinent in the realisation of amicable industrial relations. However, the perspective does not encourage as many conflicts as a pluralist view does. Advocates of this perspective argue that employers can endure more without their employees than the employees can bear without their jobs (Aswathappa 2007).
Applying the radical perspective at Etihad Airways can result in more employees becoming members of trade unions, thereby encouraging more conflicts (Cradden 2007). According to Aswathappa (2007), the unions can fight against the oppression of the employees by the employers. Therefore, the radical view can be a welcome perspective because both the employers’ and workers’ interests can be met. Eventually, it can improve the performance of Etihad Airways in terms of its quality of service.
The three mostly used theoretical perspectives in understanding organizations are the unitarist perspective, the pluralist perspective, and the radical viewpoint. A company may choose to adopt a particular theoretical perspective, depending on how the managers want to run the organization. The unitarist view calls for unity and harmony in an organization, where the employees and employers are driven by the same interests, goals, and objectives.
Those who develop conflicts are viewed as outlaws and traitors. Trade unions are allowed to emerge when a firm applies a pluralist perspective. The unions defend the rights of the employees. It is common to have conflicts if an organization utilizes a pluralist perspective because conflicts are viewed as avenues for positive development.
Finally, a radically-oriented organization experiences an increase in the formation of workers’ unions. However, conflicts are very few. Etihad Airways can adopt any of these three perspectives. However, the top executives should consider that trade union are not allowed in the UAE. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to adopt a unitarist perspective that promotes unity only.
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Aswathappa, K 2007, International Hrm, McGraw-Hill Education, Tata.
Combe, C 2014, Introduction to management, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Cradden, C 2011, ‘Unitarism, pluralism, radicalism, and the rest?’, Sociograph – Working Paper n°7 / 2011, viewed 14 February, 2015, <http://unige.ch/sciences-societe/socio/files/9114/0533/6223/sociograph_working_paper_7.pdf>