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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 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.
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.
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.
Dwight Chestnut has been a freelance business researcher and article writer for over 18 years. He has published several business articles online and written several business ebooks. Chestnut holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mississippi (1980) and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix (2004).