Individualism and collectivism: into the 1990s

Storey, John and Bacon, Nicolas (1993). Individualism and collectivism: into the 1990s. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 4(3) pp. 665–684.



New, employer-led initiatives in the management of human resources are said to have pitched the emphasis towards the ‘individualistic’ rather than the ‘collectivistic’ aspects of the employment relationship. The marginalization of trade unions and collective bargaining which this has entailed are but two (albeit fundamental) facets of a wide-ranging set of issues and repercussions. Individualization of employment policies throws up dilemmas and unresolved challenges for managers, trade unions and employees.

In embarking upon a major new empirical research project it has become necessary to revisit and review the utility of the currently available literature. In particular, how well would the traditional approaches to modelling individualism and collectivism cope with the new directions taken by recent managerial initiatives? The results of this analysis contribute the heart of this article. It is suggested that previous approaches ignore key dimensions of change which managers are currently pursuing. A new set of categories is proposed for understanding the mix of individual and collective elements in current developments. It is argued that these more accurately reflect current issues and tensions in management strategy.

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