This study explores contrary predictions of workers' dispute resolution strategies by examining three different types of homecare businesses: a conventional, hierarchical business that is run for profit; a hierarchically organized charity; and a worker-owned, worker-managed cooperative. Some literature asserts that the structure of the organization will impact how workers address their workplace disputes. However, other literature argues the structure and culture of the industry will have greater influence than organization on workplace dispute resolution. The data in this study imply that the industry effects had the greater impact in the homecare industry. Members of the worker cooperative did not exhibit different dispute resolution behaviors; workers at all three businesses described similar dispute resolution strategies. The triadic structure of the homecare industry (employee-patient-manager), the clients' physical dependency on service, and the intense loyalty of workers to clients obviated the need for many formal grievance strategies. In addition, the supportive managerial culture of the industry facilitated easy informal dispute resolution, resulting in workers at the cooperative, private hierarchy, and charity all favoring informal resolution over raising formal grievances, exiting, or toleration. These findings highlight the importance of including industry effects in employee dispute resolution research.


This is the accepted version of Hoffmann, Elizabeth. (2009). Workplace Dispute Resolution in the Homecare Industry: The Triangle of Worker, Client, and Manager. Sociological Focus. 42. 57-78. 10.1080/00380237.2009.10571343.

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