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The Concept of Collectivism & Individualism in Industrial Relations

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The concept of collectivism and individualism in industrial relations addresses the issue of what's best for the individual worker in terms of representation. It weighs individualism, in which an individual employee negotiates on his own behalf as a corporate asset or resource, against collectivism, in which employees join a union and allow the union to negotiate with the company on their behalf.

Individualism

Individualism allows employees to directly engage corporate management and negotiate wages, salaries and benefits. An employee can negotiate based on her individual merits and values to the company.

Collectivism

Under the collectivism concept, individuals choose to benefit from the collective bargaining power of a union. Unions have been a foundation in U.S. industrial relations since the United Steel Workers (USW) union emerged in the second half of the 1800s.

Comparison

To determine which option is applicable, individuals must consider many factors, including individual initiative, the industry and the strength of the union in that industry. Personal relationships may also come into play, especially as it relates to peer pressure to join a union.