Unions as institutional entrepreneurs: The contribution of unions to the diffusion and adaptation of LGBT diversity initiatives

Pulcher, Simone; Guerci, Marco; Köllen, Thomas (2019). Unions as institutional entrepreneurs: The contribution of unions to the diffusion and adaptation of LGBT diversity initiatives. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 33(3), pp. 477-490. Emerald 10.1108/JOCM-11-2018-0332

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Research on the diffusion and adaptation of LGBT diversity management practices has, until now, rarely considered the role of unions in this process; where it has done, the consideration has largely been cursory or tangential. In order to contribute towards overcoming this research gap, the purpose of this paper is to focus more closely on this issue, within the Italian context.

Theoretically based on the notion of institutional entrepreneurship, the paper analyses the ways in which trade unions contribute to the diffusion of LG-inclusive policies. Empirically this study is based on qualitative interviews with representatives from the unions, LGBT activists and individuals from those companies that have received support from the unions in terms of shaping their initiatives.

Italian unions act as institutional entrepreneurs in the sexual orientation field by framing the issue of the inclusion of LGBT workers as an issue of including minority groups under the broad umbrella of equality in workplaces, and by cooperating with LGBT associations. The latter provides the unions with two different things. First, with more legitimacy, from the viewpoint of LGBT employees; second, with the specific competencies in dealing with these issues. The accomplishments of the unions consist of arranging single agreements concerning the establishment of “punishment systems” for discriminatory behaviours, rather than promoting inclusion-oriented behaviours within the organization.

This paper highlights the role of unions, and in doing so, focusses on a hitherto marginalized actor in the process of adapting LGBT diversity initiatives. In focussing on the Italian context, it adds an important perspective to a discourse that has previously consisted of predominantly Anglo-American views.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Organization and Human Resource Management > Human Resource Management

UniBE Contributor:

Köllen, Thomas


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations








Thomas Köllen

Date Deposited:

22 Oct 2019 13:12

Last Modified:

18 Sep 2020 09:41

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Diversity management, LGBT, Unions, Lesbian, Gay, Institutional entrepreneurship





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