Conciliation, Arbitration and Human Resource Management: A. British Perspective

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Following various recent proposals to reform Australian industrial relations and personnel practices, this paper explains the rather different British approach. They place more emphasis on voluntary collective bargaining, conciliation and improving the practice of Human Resource Management (HRM), with arbitration reserved as an instrument of last resort. The British have recently been innovating by using mediation as a stage between conciliation and arbitration. Pendulum arbitration is another in novation, whereby an arbitrator has to make a forced choice between either the employer's or the union's final offer or claim. Unlike the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the British Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) explicitly aims to advise practitioners how to improve HRM. Certain companies in Britain are adopting some elements of a Japanese‐style HRM. The author shows how these approaches may include an emphasis on participative management and employee involvement, possibly to complement a pendulum arbitration procedure. The author does not suggest that ACAS could be transported to Australia. But Australia is trying to increase the efficiency of management and work practices, as one way of revitalising manufacturing industry. Therefore, there would be a constructive role in Australia for some kind of neutral agency which could help to improve HRM. There is considerable scope to put more emphasis on ‘fire‐preventative’ HRM policies rather than continuing to be preoccupied with ‘fire‐fighting’ dispute‐settlement practices. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Human Resources
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1987


  • personnel practices
  • HRM
  • Human resource management (HRM)
  • arbitration
  • mediation
  • strikes
  • disputes
  • Australia
  • UK
  • ACAS
  • Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission
  • Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
  • workplace conflict
  • Dispute settlement
  • conflict resolution

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