IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Limits on Pay as a Strategic Tool: Obstacles to Alignment in Non-Union Environments


  • Jonathan Trevor
  • William Brown


Strategic human resource management literature emphasizes the potential of pay to secure strategically desirable employee outcomes for the employer. Strategic pay, in contrast with pluralist models of pay determination, assumes an absence of collective bargaining constraints. This article analyses the process of determination of non-unionized managerial, professional and technical pay in seven leading consumer goods firms that claim to use pay as a strategic tool. It demonstrates that implemented pay practice is often remote from what is aspired to strategically. Despite the absence of collective bargaining constraints, there remain unavoidable obstacles to the ability of management to implement pay systems aligned to strategic goals. These constraints impose fundamental limitations on the use of pay as a strategic tool.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Trevor & William Brown, 2014. "The Limits on Pay as a Strategic Tool: Obstacles to Alignment in Non-Union Environments," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(3), pages 553-578, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:52:y:2014:i:3:p:553-578

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Arrowsmith & Keith Sisson, 1999. "Pay and Working Time: Towards Organization-based Systems?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 51-75, March.
    2. Jay B. Barney, 1996. "The Resource-Based Theory of the Firm," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(5), pages 469-469, October.
    3. Henry Mintzberg, 1978. "Patterns in Strategy Formation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(9), pages 934-948, May.
    4. Nolan, Peter & Brown, William, 1983. "Competition and Workplace Wage Determination," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 45(3), pages 269-287, August.
    5. Zulch, Gert & Rottinger, Sven, 2007. "Approach for personnel development planning based on the technology calendar concept," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 273-281, January.
    6. Jeffrey B. Arthur, 1992. "The Link between Business Strategy and Industrial Relations Systems in American Steel Minimills," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(3), pages 488-506, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Davide Antonioli & Paolo Pini & Roberto Antonietti, 2014. "Flexible pay systems and labour productivity: Evidence from Emilia-Romagna manufacturing firms," Working Papers 2014143, University of Ferrara, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:52:y:2014:i:3:p:553-578. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.