Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Dawson, P. M. & Zanko, M. (2009). Cultural issues in organizational change: the case of the Australian Services Union. Employment Relations Record, 9 (1), 19-41.


Trade union renewal in the context of a changing socio-political business environment remains a central challenge for union leaders. Strategies for reform must accommodate an array of issues, including gender, legislative change, environmental concerns and the growth in part-time work. The development and implementation of strategies are further compounded by the history and culture of trade unionism that adheres to tradition and is often sceptical of radical new ideas. The case of the Australian Services Union (ASU) is used to highlight some of these contemporary concerns in an analysis of longitudinal qualitative data on union organisation and change. This trade union provides a pertinent example as it is not only having to deal with the problem of declining union membership, but it is also trying to address cultural change issues associated with union amalgamation and in so doing, redress the tradition of male unionism through promoting the place of women. These changes are seen as both problematic and central to the development of union strategies and alternative approaches to revitalising trade unionism in the twenty-first century.