Understanding Cooperative Behavior in Labor Management Cooperation: A Theoy-Building Exercise

Ospina, S.
Public Administration Review, July 2003, vol.63, no.4, pp. 455-471(17) Blackwell Publishing Inc.

This article proposes a theory of how mandated institutional cooperation transforms into individual cooperative behavior. Using qualitative strategies, we draw insights about cooperation in three public-sector efforts of labor-management cooperation (LMC). We report an association between critical shifts in the roles of stakeholders and the change from adversarial to cooperative labor relations. While managers became team players along with their employees, labor representatives assumed managerial responsibilities. These changes were also associated with a service-oriented perspective, better understanding of the other's experiences, and a view of cooperation as partnership. At the heart of these transformations, we found critical changes in communication patterns associated with incrementally growing levels of trust. We propose a model that depicts the links between collective and individual levels of organizational action related to LMC. We conclude that the positive shifts in mental models regarding work and the value of cooperation justify the promotion of LMC efforts.

Wagner Faculty