Entrenched elitism in trade unions in Poland and Romania: an explanation for the lack of union strength and success?

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15 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that democratic decision-making improves trade union strength and success during policy-making. Elitism and lack of democracy, on the other hand, diminish unions’ strength. Elitism, in this respect, remains entrenched in trade union structures during internal decision-making. The author’s argument is twofold: both the ability of trade union leaders to develop links with the rank-and-file and reduce hierarchy during internal decision-making in¿uence the strength of organizations. Both factors help carry the spontaneous and local demands of union members onto the national agenda. This article assigns a crucial role to unions and interest groups in providing a system of interest representation sensitive to interests that might go unacknowledged in a system whose only devices of representation were political parties and representatives with territorial constituencies. However, this article does not idealize groups but rather questions their ability to represent the interests of their members. The author tests the plausibility of these hypotheses with data from interviews with trade union confederation and federation representatives from Romania and Poland. This article concludes that organizational democracy positively affects union success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-104
Number of pages39
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • internal democracy
  • trade unions
  • Poland
  • Romania


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