Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Work, Industrial Relations and the Business Environment

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Centre for Labour Studies

DESCRIPTION The study-unit enables students to understand the wider organisational context which impacts and is impacted by occupational health and safety. This includes an appreciation of work culture, the sociology of work and the business environment. The logic of industrialisation, from the pre-industrial, to the industrial and post-industrial systems, is examined. A sociological analysis of work and industry is carried out by reviewing the classical theories of work. The organisation of work, business functions, culture and management are also discussed.

Study-Unit Aims:

The aim of the unit is to enable students to develop a more holistic appreciation of the impact and implications of health and safety interventions by fostering an understanding of the wider organisational environment including: sociological perspectives of different workplaces; workplace culture; industrial relations; and the business environment.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

A. The business environment:

- Examine the internal business environment including corporate culture, ethics and conflict, and the external business environment including legal, political, economic, technical and cultural aspects through case studies and the final assessment;
- Discuss the purpose and application of the following organisational functions: human resources; loyalty; production efficiency; appraisal; development; rewards; careers; finance and marketing;
- Discuss and analyse through the final assessment the purpose and implications of business goals, responsibility, liabilities and stakeholders within organisations;
- Analyse the relevance and impact to organisations and OHS of group processes and group decisions, leadership and management;
- By means of group discussion and final assessment, analyse the implications to the organisation and OHS of the organisation of work, work schedules and shift work.

B. People, work and industrial relations:

- Discuss work and attitudes to work: defining work, social and technical relations of production, the effects of technological change, work status, gender and class;
- Evaluate through class debate and final analytical assessment, the sociological perspective in view of Maltese workplaces and work ethics;
- Critically analyse by means of a final assessment and class debate: orientations to work and work culture; the pros and cons of specialisation; de-skilling; alienation; anomie; job satisfaction; values; substantive versus procedural aspirations; work and non-work; compensatory versus spill over effects;
- Examine the principles of industrial relations and their impact upon OHS by means of a final assessment and class debate including: the role of trade unions; workers organisations and professional bodies; authority versus power; conflict in organisations; 'Us' and 'Them' perspectives; trade union consciousness; normative conflict; origins and causes of industrial action; covert versus overt resistance to power; Win-Win versus Lose-Lose approaches to OHS; trade union attitudes to OHS policies; negotiation strategies; collective bargaining; health and safety committees; Social Policy of the European Union; ethics and corporate social responsibility;
- Identify relevant Legislation and regulation pertaining to any of the subjects referred to under the study-unit themes.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Develop the general ability to discuss and debate the subject of work, industrial relations and the business environment;
- Critically evaluate the changes and developments occurring in the world of work;
- Appraise working arrangements and the organisational context in respect to occupational health and safety interventions;
- Recognise different work cultures, group processes and leadership styles and subsequently tailor OHS interventions;
- Involve, react and negotiate with trade union representatives in view of OHS policies.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Falzon, M. A. (2001). Representing Danger at a Mediterranean Drydocks. Journal of Mediterranean Studies, 11(2), 355-374.
- Grint, K. (2005). The Sociology of Work: Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Watson, T. (2008). Sociology, Work and Industry. USA: Routledge.
- De Botton, A. (2010). The pleasures and sorrows of work. London: Emblem Editions.

Supplementary Readings:

- Baldacchino Godfrey (2010) Introducing Social Studies: A Maltese Reader, Malta, PEG (Section III).
- Baldacchino Godfrey (2000) Malta and the European Union: A Comparative Study on Social Policy, Employment and Industrial Relations, Malta, Malta Employers Association.
- Burchill, F. (2008). Labour Relations. London: Palgrave.
- Forsyth, D. R. (2009). Group dynamics. USA: Wadsworth Publishing.
- Grint, K., & Woolgar, S. (2013). The Machine at work: Technology, work and organization. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
- Seta, C. E., Paulus, P. B. & Baron, R. A. (2000). Effective Human Relations: A guide to people at work. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
- Rifkin, J. (1995). The end of work. The decline of the global labour force and the dawn of the post-market era. New York: Putnam.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study & Practicum

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Godfrey Baldacchino
Theo Koning

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.