An institutional logics approach to the heterogeneous world of highly skilled work

Susanne Pernicka, Astrid Reichel

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to clarify the relationship of highly skilled work and (collective) power. It develops an institutional logics perspective and argues that highly skilled workers’ propensity to join trade unions varies by institutional order. Design/methodology/approach – Data from two occupational fields in Austria, university professors and management consultants, representing two different institutional orders were collected via questionnaires. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was employed to test the hypotheses. Findings – The results show that over and above organisational level variables, individual's background and employee power variables institutional logics significantly add to explaining trade union membership of highly skilled workers. Prevalence of a professional logic in a field makes collective action more likely than market logic. Originality/value – Highly skilled workers are overall described as identifying themselves more with the goals of their employer or client and with their professional peers than with other corporate employees or organised labour. They are thus expected to develop consent rather than conflict orientation vis-á-vis their employers and clients. This paper supports a differentiated view and shows that within highly skilled work there are groups engaging in collective action. By developing an institutional logics perspective it provides a useful approach to explain heterogeneity within the world of highly skilled work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235 - 253
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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