Ethical Issue in Workplace ADR

Van Gramberg, Bernadine and Provis, Chris (2003) Ethical Issue in Workplace ADR. Working Paper. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


This paper examines some ethical issues that arise in workplace relations, as they can be seen in a case study of enterprise bargaining in a small Victorian firm. The case revolves around negotiations over a log of claims in 2001. Several specific ethical issues arose out of mediation by a third party, who although presently an independent management consultant, also had a previous role as HR manager in the public utility from which the present firm had emerged during earlier privatisation processes. In particular, this paper considers the extent to which ethical issues arise out of the mediator's past associations with management of the firm. Further issues identified included the inequality in the power and information that the different parties had in the bargaining process. We argue that while the past associations of the mediator are not inherently problematic, some of the problems which arose may raise issues of integrity, perceptiveness and openness by various participants in the process. However, we also suggest that the issues cannot be finally resolved without a background of public standards about what may reasonably be expected by way of outcomes in enterprise bargaining, standards as may have been achieved in the past by arbitration of test cases. However, that may be affected by what is at issue. Our conclusion is that ethical processes in enterprise bargaining and workplace ADR rely both on appropriate background institutions and on the integrity and sensitivity of participants, with neither alone being sufficient.

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Item type Monograph (Working Paper)
DOI 13
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
Keywords ethical issues; workplace; negotiations; inequality; power; perceptiveness; integrity; sensitivity
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