To Be or Not To Be Unionized?

Brandon Carlyle Grant, Teresa Cardador, Gregory Northcraft

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Unions remain an important thread in the fabric of American work. We offer a new perspective on a worker’s decision to support a union organizing campaign, by viewing that decision as a social dilemma. Viewing union organizing campaigns as a social dilemma highlights three critical missing elements in a worker’s cost-benefit analysis of supporting union certification: (1) the risky pre-election exposure required by workers to insure success of the union organizing campaign, (2) the social uncertainty of whether other members of the bargaining unit will similarly contribute to the organizing campaign, and (3) the environmental uncertainty of whether even a successful certification election will yield the anticipated benefits of having a union represent the bargaining unit. The implications of considering union organizing as a social dilemma for the major “players” in the union organizing effort – individual bargaining unit members, union organizers, and management – as well as the theoretical and practical implications of viewing union organizing as a social dilemma, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16815
JournalAcademy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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