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THIS paper sets out a brief summary of the analysis of industrial relations systems that has emerged from the work of scholars observing the British situation over the past twenty years. In particular it focuses upon the 'consensus-convergence model' favoured by American academics in the 1950s and secondly, upon the 'informal-formal divergence' model put forward by a group of Oxford scholars in the 1960s. Both models emphasize institutional aspects of the system: the needs and aspirations of the actors are seen as part of the input of the system largely in so far as as they involve conflict or disorder. The output of the industrial relations system is seen to be rules, the most important of which are the procedures by which disputes may be resolved and individual grievances may be handled. The production of such rules depends on the support forthcoming through 'a sufficiently high degree of consensus among those whose interests are most affected by their application'.-"^
Much of the empirical material upon which such models rest is derived from a short-term historical analysis of the institutional output of rules and actions stemming from the system under examination. The paper suggests that greater attention should be paid to the actors' needs which provide an input to the system and to the nature of the consensus required for the operation of existing institutions. It maintains that a longer term model of occupational change as related to market, technological and organizational factors, may prove to be more viable than past models in predicting the concomitant modifications in the institutions of industrial relations.
This study uses a variety of methods—reactive and unobtrusive—to operationalize the filtering of information during an innovative decision process by a gatekeeper. Specific data are presented on gatekeeping within the focal organization and also between the focal organization and other organizations in its organization set. Theoretically, the paper explores the increased possibilities for filtering information under the uncertain conditions of an innovative decision. Power is discussed both in terms of the resources which form the base of an actor's power and also the tactics of resource use. The focus on decision making as a political process provides an emphasis lacking in current organizational studies.