Revisiting trade unions’ response to new public management: a case from Zambia
Pretorius, Leon G.
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This article discusses the strategic responses by public-sector unions to new public management (NPM) reforms in Zambia. The article is based on a qualitative research methodology focusing on the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia. The study shows that public-sector workers in developing countries are more vulnerable to the effects of externally imposed NPM reforms, which include job cuts. However, the implementation of these reforms faces opposition especially from trade unions. In line with the assumptions of strategic choice theory, union responses to NPM reforms are strategic. Despite the high vulnerability of public workers in developing countries, their unions use strategies that can also be observed in developed countries to mitigate the negative consequences of NPM reforms on the public sector. These strategies follow a three-stage process, namely, opposing the reforms, negotiating for favorable reform measures, and shifting from centralized structures to networks.