Human Resource Strategies,Workplace Reform and Industrial Restructuring in Australia and New Zealand

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Allan, C
Brosnan, P
Walsh, P
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1999
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Abstract

In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have pursued two different routes of labour market reform. New Zealand opted for a radical experiment in the deregulation of industrial relations and other areas. Australia pursued a co-operative and co-ordinated approach to reform within the centralized arbitral system. Both reform initiatives were designed to stimulate improvements in organizational performance and cost competitiveness. In this paper, we argue that there are three main types of strategies that management can use to reduce labour cost and improve performance: productivity-enhancement, costminimization and work-intensification strategies. We argue that the former is a long-term sustainable strategy whereas the latter two are negative short-term strategies that may have deleterious longer-term effects. This paper reports the results of a cross-national survey in New Zealand and Australia into the extent of adoption of these management strategies. The results are presented by industry, employment size, mode of operation and countries as a whole. The research findings indicate that New Zealand's decentralization has encouraged a higher degree of employer experimentation with both positive and negative workplace change strategies, especially in the private sector. Australia's more centralized system limited the use of cost-minimization strategies but not productivity-enhancing strategies in the public and not-for-profit sector. The research found evidence of work intensification in both countries.

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International Journal of Human Resource Management

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10

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5

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Marketing

Policy and administration

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