Report on Employee Relations: Pluralist Perspective, Unitary Perspective, Management Styles

Successful employee relations imply using human resources in such a way that the employer could get the maximum possible benefit from employees’ skills, and the employees – the most relevant guidelines and psychological satisfaction from their labor. Thus, the study will cover the analysis of two basic models of employee relations such as pluralistic and utilitarian ones. Additionally, the paper contains the analyses of such management styles as autocratic, democratic, and liberal styles. The personal benefit is dictated by the necessity of analyzing the actual problems of the effectiveness of the organization and management of employee relations. The main advantage of this research is the right to assert that the fundamental theoretical position of all models is the recognition of the economic utility and social value of human resources development, which requires investment among other types of business resources.


Unitary and Pluralistic Approaches

The unitary view is a collection of all views and psychological influences that determine the nature of the perception and interpretation of events by an individual. In the context of employee relations, both the management of the company and employees are considered as those who have identical interests (Daniels, 2016). The unitary view is usually held by the managers that see their function in the supervision of employees in order to achieve economic goals. An employer considers an enterprise as a unitary structure with one source of authority. The positive side of this approach is that employees naturally cooperate with management and work as a team in achieving the goals of the enterprise (Cloud, 2011). Thus, the employer includes the unification of efforts and the application of measures designed to inspire and motivate the workforce, informing employees about the details of the overall set of goals of the organization.

The unitary approach has a number of negative aspects. First, it is unable to capture the motives of an individual worker who does not believe that all employees of the company are “in the same boat” (Aylott, 2014). Apart from this, the approach in question does not recognize the inevitability of conflicting interests pursued by management and employees of the company in certain situations (Aylott, 2014). For example, a unitary approach is effective when an imperfectly clear problem is posed for an extremely cohesive team. This approach, however, is not suitable when a group of employees has the task of organizing some event but they cannot reach a consensus. In this case, the employer assumes responsibility to make a decision independently without taking into account the opinion of other members; as a result, the conflict occurs. The unitary relation within the individualism approach is focused on the individual sources of power — the employer (Lewin, 2015). The individualistic orientation is associated with the automatization of consciousness and the desire of the leader’s personality for self-determination. Thus, this view denies not only the inevitability but also the possibility of the emergence of contradictions of economic interests and conflicts between employers and employees.

In contrast to the abovementioned, the pluralistic view defines that an enterprise is a heterogeneous society that contains many related but different interests and goals that must be in some kind of equilibrium. The pluralistic point considers conflicts of interest and disagreement as to the normal and inevitable state of affairs. Pluralism assumes that the best way to reach an agreement and long-term stability lies in the recognition of the presence of conflicting interests and negotiation for achieving compromises (Gennard, 2010). Instead of corporate unity, expressed in a single center of power, company executives must accept the existence of alternative sources of management. They must face the fact that the enterprise, as expressed by Mike Leat, has a tripartite character (2007). First, it brings and distributes profits. Second, it includes a management system in which leaders jointly exercise power but are themselves involved in a complex model of relationships. Its third “face” is manifested in a commitment to an enterprise that develops from the bottom of personal relationships between different groups of employees based on common interests, opinions, and values (Leat, 2007). A good example is a situation with the discussion of a future project by all members of the team, including a manager. In this case, the manager listens to the opinion of all employees and in the course of negotiations coordinates all points of view. The plan that will be adopted must equally satisfy the interests of all members. A negative side of the pluralistic approach to relations with employees is a constant process of harmonizing various interests, which takes much time. It can be achieved through formal agreements, in which trade unions or workers’ associations are recognized. Their absence may indicate that the manager adheres to the unitary philosophy. Thus, the pluralistic view fits the collectivist approach where the groups of employees participate in decision-making (Lewin, 2015). It is necessary to emphasize that the opposition between collectivism and individualism is not absolute and as such manifests itself only in extreme forms. Moreover, individual responsibility is an indispensable basis for the formation of the collective.

Management Styles

The management styles are a set of methods of behavior and interaction between the employer and the subordinate. There are several classifications of management styles, but the most common of them are based on the views of Kurt Lewin who distinguishes democratic and liberal styles (2015). They differ in the degree of focus of managerial functions of leadership and the collective participation in making decisions.

An autocratic style is a directive approach which means greater freedom of employer in choosing means of influence under weak control. The manager autocratically resolves the majority of not only major but also minor issues in the life of the personnel, imposes his/her will on the performers, and does not delegate any authority to them (Daniels, 2016). The leader-autocrat is dogmatic as he/she always wants to impose his/her will on people, does not tolerate any objections, and does not listen to someone else’s opinions (Cloud, 2011). Such a boss often interferes with the work of the subordinates and strictly controls their actions. Naturally, such a leader is able to do much to solve the problems due to the skillful organization, bold decisions, and persistent implementation of his/her plans. However, the desire to command prevails and that is why the most capable and self-aware employees seek to stop working for such managers (Daniels, 2016). For example, the authoritarian style is perfectly suitable for solving fast one-time tasks, in situations where there is a very strong leader and when discipline is strong enough to achieve a result. Nevertheless, the authoritarian style of leadership adversely affects the moral and psychological climate, leading to a decrease in initiative, self-control, and responsibility of employees.

The democratic style is characterized by subordinates’ self-sufficiency within the scope of their functions. It is a collegiate style that gives greater freedom to the activities of subordinates under the supervision of the boss. The leader-democrat prefers such mechanisms of influence as participation, belonging, and self-expression (Cloud, 2011). According to this style, labor is a natural process: if the conditions are favorable, then people will not only assume the responsibility but also strive for it (Daniels, 2016). In addition to this, if people are attached to organizational decisions, they will use self-control and self-management. The enterprises dominated by a democratic style are characterized by high decentralization of authority (Daniels, 2016). The subordinates actively participate in the preparation of decisions. For example, the democratic style is applicable in sales, so it is suitable for teams where non-trivial tasks are solved and creativity is required. Thus, when democratic style dominates, instructions are issued not in the form of prescriptions but in the form of proposals based on the consideration of subordinates’ opinions. The employees are fully aware of their importance and responsibility in solving the problems faced by the team.

The liberal style is characterized by the fact that subordinates have the freedom to make their own decisions. The liberal employer does not interfere much in the affairs of his/her subordinates and does not show much activity at all, acting mainly as an intermediary in relations with other divisions (Gennard, 2010). The employer does not want to spoil relations with his/her subordinates, so he/she often avoids drastic measures (Gennard, 2010). For example, this type of management is required when the subordinate is motivated to perform the task. As a rule, these are creative collectives comprising highly qualified employees. In general, when the liberal style dominates, the leader prefers such an organization of activity, when everything is written down on the shelves, so a need for making original decisions and interfering in the affairs of subordinates arises relatively rarely. For the work of such employees, a broad autonomy is needed, since fitting them for a general framework reduces their creativity.


In my opinion, nowadays, employers are not limited to just one type of employee relations or management style. They use different styles of manipulating personnel, choosing a particular style based on the prevailing work situation. To my way of thinking, such type of management is reality-oriented and brings the greatest benefits to the team and the company. The key question is how to maximize the use of human resources. Therefore, the utilitarian and the pluralistic methods were introduced. Basing on the abovementioned, I concluded that to reach the maximum effectiveness of his/her enterprise, the employer must simultaneously meet three sets of interrelated needs: the needs related to the production task, the common interests of the group, and the individual needs of employees.


Aylott, E. (2014). Employee relation. London, UK: Kogan Page.

Cloud, H. (2011). Necessary endings. New York, NY: Harper Business.

Daniels, K. (2016). Introduction to employment law: Fundamentals for HR and business students. London, UK: Kogan Page.

Gennard, J. ( 2010). Managing employment relations. London, UK: Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

Leat, M. (2007). Exploring employee relations. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Lewin, K. (2015). Resolving social conflicts. Beijing: Communication University of China Press.

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