Unpacking the effects of trade union membership on job (dis)satisfaction
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This dissertation sets out to explore the roots of trade union members’ job dissatisfaction, as a large body of prior quantitative research, spanning more than four decades, indicates that trade union members express higher levels of job dissatisfaction than non-union members. Industrial relations scholars have not been able to agree on an explanation as to why trade union members express comparatively more job dissatisfaction. The ambiguity in establishing a causal relationship between trade union membership and job dissatisfaction is due to the fact that previous works have largely been biased towards the use of quantitative methods. The present study, therefore, uses a unique qualitative approach consisting of grounded theoretical techniques and interviews with 43 trade union members to gather new insights on the topic. Interviews were conducted at two case study organisations, one a manufacturer and the other a public services organisation, in Scotland. Three alternative explanations that have sought to explain trade union members’ job dissatisfaction were unpacked. These explanations link trade union members’ job dissatisfaction to (i) unmet expectations from trade union membership, (ii) awareness of inequalities and (ii) industrial relations climates. The aim of this dissertation was to develop insights to enable a better understanding of why trade union members appear to express dissatisfaction with their jobs. The grounded theoretical approach has enabled at least three contributions to the industrial relations literatures and, to a lesser extent, to the human resources and job satisfaction literatures. These contributions are: (i) a deep, qualitative approach towards understanding the phenomenon; (ii) a critical evaluation of three alternative explanations of the phenomenon; and (iii) insights towards an initial model explaining the roots of trade union members’ job dissatisfaction.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-08-23
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 23rd August 2024
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