Workplace Partnership in Ireland: Irreconcilable Tensions Between an ‘Irish Third Way’ of Voluntary Mutuality and Neoliberalism

  • Tony Dobbins
  • Tony Dundon


This chapter provides an overview of the national institutional context and state policies in promoting voluntary workplace partnership in the Republic of Ireland. The chapter draws on analysis from Dobbins and Dundon (2015). Workplace partnership is distinct from national-level social pacts in that in the former, it is claimed by advocates that participants actively engage in social dialogue leading to more informed decision-making for the good of all stakeholders at organizational level. In contrast, social partnership at national level comprised consensus-seeking pacts between government, employers and trade unions, whereby the parties engaged in centralized bargaining over key macroeconomic and social issues. Ireland has promoted national-level social partnership from 1987 until its collapse in 2009, with a distinct objective of diffusing collaborative partnership to enterprise level. The two levels—national and workplace—are not mutually exclusive and interlink in important ways. National policy and institutions shape the context in which workplace-level cooperative arrangements are enacted and played out. Tripartite bargained consensus at a national level—involving government, employers and unions as the major ‘partners’—was seen as a precursor to the efficacy of workplace-level partnerships.


Trade Union Collective Bargaining Social Dialogue Mutual Gain Social Partnership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Dobbins
    • 1
  • Tony Dundon
    • 1
  1. 1.Bangor Business SchoolUniversity of BangorBangorUK

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