Shaping the bargaining agenda. The Audit Commission and public service reform in British local government

Roper, Ian and Higgins, Paul and James, Phil (2007) Shaping the bargaining agenda. The Audit Commission and public service reform in British local government. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18 (9). pp. 1589-1607. ISSN 0958-5192

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Abstract

This article examines the role of the Audit Commission (AC) in local government collective bargaining. While the AC has no official role in such bargaining, it has a role in monitoring the performance of local government services. In this role the AC has a clear potential, in the context of the government's 'modernization' agenda - as manifested in its 'Best Value' regime, for influencing both the content of collective agreements, and the process of collective bargaining, where these are seen to conflict with other Best Value objectives - particularly in relation to external competition. The research conducted involved a content analysis of AC inspection reports on human resource services and longitudinal case studies of two local authority union branches' experiences of Best Value and the role of the AC. The findings from the inspection reports indicate that, while the AC is actually acting to promote activities that could be seen as supportive of union bargaining agendas, notably in relation to equality type issues, they are also supporting service externalisation and thereby acting to limit the scope of their impact. The reports also indicate that, despite there being prescribed 'best practice' for local government employment relations ('social partnership' with unions), the AC is not promoting any such engagement with unions. Evidence from the case studies add weight to these observations: the AC, in one case, was deeply suspicious of an attempted union management agreement on procurement, while in the other, the AC made no criticism of the costly effects that externalization had on union-management relations.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Business > Finance & Accounting
Citations on ISI Web of Science:1
ID Code:165
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Deposited On:24 Oct 2008 11:55
Last Modified:01 Apr 2014 06:31

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