To be or not to be unionized? A social dilemma perspective on worker decisions to support union organizing

M. Teresa Cardador, Brandon C. Grant, J. Ryan Lamare, Gregory B. Northcraft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A worker's decision whether or not to support union organizing remains a critical and timely issue for American workers. We draw on the union organizing, organizational psychology, and social dilemma literatures to offer new insight into a worker's decision whether or not to support union organizing efforts. In particular, we highlight three specific conditions – social uncertainty, environmental uncertainty, and exposure – that make the decision whether or not to support union organizing a social dilemma, and describe how these should be expected to vary by union organizing stage. We also examine the effects of key contingencies: management opposition that exacerbates, and strategic union efforts that counteract, the effects of social dilemmas. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of viewing union organizing from a social dilemma perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-568
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017



  • Environmental uncertainty
  • Exposure
  • Social dilemma perspective
  • Social uncertainty
  • Union organizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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