Lecturer: Essay Example

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Critical Evaluation of Central Argument and Methodology



Scientific or journal papers are instruments of persuasion that must argue readers into understanding their underlying assumptions and conclusions. Hence, they must be rested on the principles of logical or critical arguments. A logical argument refers to the series of facts and reasons that are logically connected to establish a viewpoint (Pride 1999). Their significance is to persuade their readers into accommodating the claims as valid, and to undertake an action. Based on these perspectives, this paper explains and critically evaluates the central argument and methodology in the journal article by the scholars Townsend, Burgess and Wilkinson (2013). In consistency with Townsend, Burgess and Wilkinson’s (2013) central argument, this essay argues that:
while enterprise bargaining is potentially instrumental in transforming the employment conditions, it does not meet the needs of the trade unions, employees and the employers.


Peetz (2012) portrays bargainingto be a process of negotiating the terms of an agreement, such as employment contract. The process is voluntary and out of free will. Therefore, enterprise bargaining is the voluntary negotiation of working conditions and wages within an individual organisation or an enterprise. The process of negotiation is typically between a company’s management and employees, or the management and trade union representatives (Blain 1993). On the other hand, Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) is composed of a combined set of industrial agreements between an employer and the trade union. The key issues reflecting bargaining include structures of job classification, disputed resolution, performance measures, family policies, provisions for leave, wage structures and family policies.

Townsend, Burgess and Wilkinson’s (2013) explained that while they may on one hand be beneficial to the employers, they also facilitate flexibility in the working as well as other performance-related conditions, they also benefit the employees on the other hand since they offer better working conditions and wages.

Implications of enterprise bargaining have been discussed by advocates of decentralised and centralised industrial relations. While some arguments have elucidated the merits of enterprise bargaining, few studies have considered investigating their disadvantages. Townsend took this perspective in exploring the (Blain 1993; Houston 1996; Hancock 2012).

According to Houston (1996), bargaining is based on power relations, usually between the employer and employees and employer and the trade union. This is since it is based on interests and rights (Blain 1993).

Central argument

The central argument in Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess’ (2013) paper is that enterprise bargaining (EB) does not meet the needs of the actors and that it has run its course. While these assumption is disputable based on contradictory findings from some researches, distinguishing the concept of bargaining and enterprise and their varied consequences for employee welfare, organisational productivity an union power, it is evident that Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess’ (2013) central claims hold some ground.

Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess’ (2013) argument is based on the premise that, although Australia shifted from centralised bargaining, questions on the disadvantages of enterprise bargaining has not been examined. Townsend and his colleagues pointed out that decentralisation may be inefficient to some extent because of the procedures of bargaining and the time and expertise needed to make sure it runs its course at the organisational and industrial level. Additionally, the consequences of bargaining are also a factor despite its focus on individual organisational level. In the case of trade unions, while bargaining gives them enables them to be relevant, it also weakens between bargaining rounds (Hancock 2012).

Indeed, although there have been a number of studies of enterprise bargaining, much of the published studies have only examined the results and terms of bargaining, such as non-wage and pay conditions (Fieldes and Bramble 1992; Blain 1993; Houston 1996; Hancock 2012). However, studies to examine the conditions, processes and wage outcomes across enterprises within the same industry have been neglected. The gap in literature is therefore effectively presented. For instance, Fieldes and Bramble (1992) argued that collective activity through strikes about wages and working conditions should be defended since they provide workers with better working conditions.

In making the claims, Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess (2013) demonstrated that after over two decades of enterprise bargaining, there is a need to find out whether there is a better way of working, despite the Business Council of Australia having pointed to the advantages. The researchers claimed that there was a need to examine the disadvantages of EB including that of decentralisation. Further, Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess (2013) appropriately provided the evidence. For instance, they noted that decentralisation may be inefficient in various levels, such as in the procedure of bargaining and the time and expertise required, little variation across enterprises and lastly the collateral consequences of bargaining. Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess (2013) also summarised their arguments clearly and succinctly, putting their readers in the right direction. Therefore, analysis of the rationale and background of the Townsend, Wilkinson and Burgess’ (2013) also gives ground to their underlying argument.

Hence, while EB is potentially damaging to organisations, most researchers and enterprises have been preoccupied with their advantages. Therefore, while enterprise bargaining is potentially instrumental in transforming the employment conditions, it does not meet the needs of the trade unions, employees and the employers. Loundes et al (2003) takes this perspective to point out that there is a need to take caution before claiming that EB is necessary and beneficial for workplace productivity.


The authors used case study methodology to collect data for their study. The methodology was consistent with the research questions as the authors needed to examine a real work environment, where viewpoints and attitudes could be extracted (Fidel 1983). However, by dwelling on the attitudes and viewpoints, the findings were vulnerable to biased viewpoints and equivocal evidence (Zainal 2007). The case study method was used to examine two research questions. First, whether the enterprise bargaining processes are performed to enable EB processes to contribute to the organisational efficiency and improved productivity. Second, whether enterprise bargaining has positive and negative implications in the workplace. The two questions transmitted the researchers’ underlying assumptions to the case study (Mason 2001).

The choice of the case study methodology was therefore appropriate for answering the research questions, acquiring qualitative data and arriving at a reliable conclusion (Fidel 1983). Tellis (1997) stated that a case study is an effective methodology in cases where an exhaustive and a holistic investigation are required, since they extract data from the viewpoint or attitudes of the participants, through the use of multiple sources of data. In the present paper, the authors examined the working relationships between the employees and senior management at “The Manufacturer” and “The Hotel”. For instance, employees’ attitudes towards Enterprise Bargaining Agreement at The Manufacturer were examined. The senior manager’s perspectives on the costs associated with reaching agreements were also examined. Both scenarios are consistent with the research questions.

The authors gave a succinct statement of the methodology they used at the introduction, which attained its purpose of reaching the research aims, the conclusions and whether the method is appropriate for the research. For instance, the authors noted that they consider two costs studies of enterprise bargaining that show the advantages and disadvantages of EB. This carried critical information with very few words (Mason 2001).

However, the authors failed to summarise their research design at the outset to explain why the methodology was selected. Zucker (2009) explained that this is critical as it reminds the reader of the study objectives and how it relates to the method. In which case, this could have been achieved. In any case, the authors cannot be entirely criticised for this oversight since they summarised the research design earlier in the introduction with the view of corroborating what they aimed to achieve. Unisa (2014) argued that description of the research can be included in the research design section or the introduction. The authors, however, included other description, such as textual analysis and places where the data from the case study was extracted (The Manufacturer and The Hotel). Despite indicating the number of participants involved (450 workers at The Manufacture and 300 workers at the Hotel), the researchers failed to provide an exact figure of the participants. This also manifestly provides little basis for empirical generalisation, as a small number of participants were used (Zainal 2007).

Therefore, the authors’ central claim has a proper balance of claims and evidence. For instance, in abstract, the researcher conveyed his central claims and described the methodology that would effectively transmit the evidence.

Findings and conclusions

Concerning the issue of whether EB is costly and time-consuming, the researchers found that EB was in actual fact not efficient since the findings reported no positive gains. In respect to whether EB has positive or negative implications, the findings presented contradictory results. First, the process undermines the relationship between employers and the workers, despite some findings that indicated to, a lesser extent, evidence of communication, participation and engagement.

The findings suggested that bargaining is a necessary and inescapable process. However, this was solely since it is a component of the organisation. For instance, the researchers found that despite the necessity, some underlying anxieties over the process and implications exist. In both case studies, the findings suggested that enterprise bargaining is costly, time-consuming and a chore within the workplace. On the positive, the findings suggested that enterprise bargaining is correlated to increase communication within the workplace between the employers and employees. On the other hand, the findings indicated that trade unions were perceived as being actively engaged in bargaining, which is time-consuming. At the same time, if the bargaining is elongated or the process led to work disruption and strikes, it led to mistrusts and cooperation between the employers and the employees. The organisations’ management also acknowledged that they did not realise any positive productivity outcomes from bargaining.


Overall, as established in this analysis, Townsend, Burgess and Wilkinson’s (2013) central argument holds. Indeed, while enterprise bargaining is potentially instrumental in transforming the employment conditions, it does not meet the needs of the trade unions, employees and the employers. The case study methodology used to collect data for their study was appropriate for such type of qualitative research, as the authors needed to investigate a real work environment where viewpoints and attitudes could be extracted. Hence, the authors’ central claim has a proper balance of claims and evidence making it valid to conclude that there is need to take caution before claiming that EB is necessary and beneficial for workplace productivity. However, the findings from the study lack generalisability due to small sample population. In which case, there is a need for longitudinal researchers to corroborate Townsend, Burgess and Wilkinson’s (2013) findings.

Reference List

Blain N 1993, “Enterprise bargaining: An overview,” Economic and Labour Relations Review vol. 4 no.1, pp79–97.

Fidel, R 1983, “The Case Study Method: A Case Study,” LISR vol. 6, pp.273-288

Fieldes D & Bramble T 1992, “Post-Fordism: Historical Break or Utopian Fantasy?” Journal of Industrial Relations 34(4): 562–579.

Gilbert, N 2008, Researching Social Life, Sage Publications, New York

Hancock K 2012, “Enterprise bargaining and productivity”, Labour and Industry vol. 22 no. 3, pp289–302.

Houston, L 1996, «Equity or Exclusion? A Case Study of the Workplace Bargaining Process,» Jigs vol. 1 no. 2, pp.127-135

Lackaff, D & Cheong, P 2008, «Communicating Authority Online: Perceptions and Interpretations of Internet Credibility among College Students,» The Open Communication Journal, vol. 2, pp143-155

Lankes, D 2007, «Credibility on the internet: shifting from authority to reliability,» Journal of Documentation vol. 64 no. 5, pp. 667-686

Loundes J, Tseng Y & Wooden M 2003, “Enterprise bargaining and productivity in Australia: What do we know?” Economic Record vol. 79, pp245–258

Mason, J 2001, Qualitative Researching, Sage Publications, New York

Metzger, M 2007, «Making Sense of Credibility on the Web: Models for Evaluating Online Information and Recommendations for Future Research» Journal Of The American Society For Information Science And Technology vol, 58 no. 17, pp. 2078–2091

Peetz, D 2012, «The Impacts and Non-Impacts On Unions Of Enterprise Bargaining,» Labour and Industry vol. 22 no. 3, pp. 237–254

Pride, M 1999, The Critical Analysis of an Argument in W132, viewed 2 May 2014, http://www.english.lsu.edu/English_UWriting/FILES/item35405.pdf

Tellis, W 1997, «Application of a Case Study Methodology,” The Qualitative Report, vol. 3. no3, viewed 3 May 2014, http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR3-3/tellis2.html

Townsend, K, Burgess J, Wilkinson, A 2013 “Is enterprise bargaining still a better way of working?” Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 55 no. 1, pp.100-117

Unisa 2014, Structuring an academic ‘argument’ within a journal paper, University of South Australia, viewed 2 May 2014, http://w3.unisa.edu.au/researcheducation/students/journal.asp

Zainal, Z 2007, «Case study as a research method,» Jurnal Kemanusiaan bil vol. 9, pp.1-6

Zucker, D 2009, How to Do Case Study Research, School of Nursing Faculty Publication Series. Paper 2, viewed 2 May 2014, http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=nursing_faculty_pubs