Managing under Pressure

  • Martin Laffin
Part of the Public Policy and Politics book series


Public service organisations have been undergoing a major transition from being ‘model’ employers, setting an example to the private sector, towards being ‘marketplace’ employers. This transition, which is still in process, reflects the impact of major political and economic changes across the Western world. In Britain the transition is being engineered by the Thatcher Conservative Government which is intent on reforming a public sector seen as a haven of inefficient labour market practices. The Government has endeavoured to introduce competition and labour flexibility into the public sector. Local authorities have been especially affected by this new approach. Local authority pay, in common with the rest of the public sector, is now fixed on the basis of that sector’s ‘ability to pay’ rather than ‘comparability’ with the private sector. Furthermore local authorities have had to adjust to severe reductions in central grant and successive measures intended to compel them to privatise services.


Public Sector Local Authority Policy Change Industrial Relation Public Employer 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See also Charles H. Levine’s discussion of a similar paradox, ‘More on Cutback Management: Hard Questions for Hard Times’ in Charles H. Levine (ed.), Managing Fiscal Stress: The Crisis in the Public Sector (Chatham N. J.: Chatham House, 1980) p. 308.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Chapter 1 and James O’Connor, The Fiscal Crisis of the State (London: Macmillan, 1973) p. 254.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Compare John Purcell’s description of ‘the stepped sequence in conflict resolution’ in Good Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice (London: Macmillan, 1981) p. 238.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Committee of Inquiry into the Conduct of local Authority Business, Report (Widdicombe Committee) Cmnd 9797 (London: HMSO, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Harry. H. Wellington and Ralph K. Winter, The Unions and the Cities (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, 1971).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    P. B. Beaumont, ‘The Right to Strike in the Public Sector: The Issues and Evidence’, Public Administration Bulletin no. 35 (April 1981) Martin Oppenheimer, White Collar Politics (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985) pp. 167–8.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See, for example, P. K. Edwards, ‘Strikes and Unorganised Conflict: Some Further Consideration’, British Journal of Industrial Relations 21 (June 1979) pp. 95–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. P. K. Edwards and Hugh Scullion, The Social Organisation of Industrial Conflict (Oxford: Blackwell, 1982).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martin Laffin 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Laffin
    • 1
  1. 1.SydneyAustralia

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