Original Research

Conceptualising primary labour relationship quality

Lukas I. Ehlers
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 20, No 1 | a1573 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v20i1.1573 | © 2017 Lukas I. Ehlers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2016 | Published: 15 May 2017

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Lukas I. Ehlers, Department of People Management and Development, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

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Background: A typology of desirable social conditions in supervisory relationships suggested that such conditions may also be desirable in other forms of labour relationships. A literature review confirmed that trust, compliance, fairness and good faith can be confidently regarded as universally desirable social conditions in all forms of individual or collective labour relationships between employers and employees.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine if primary labour relationship quality (PLQ) can be confidently conceptualised as a social construct that strongly relates to the perceived levels of compliance, fairness and good faith in supervisory or primary labour relationships.

Setting: A combination of random and convenience sampling approaches was implemented to collect PLQ related data from 454 voluntary respondents, who were subordinate employees in the Tshwane region.

Methods: A quantitative research methodology was adopted. This included conceptual definition of the PLQ construct, objective measurement of PLQ levels of voluntary respondents in an adequately sized sample, factor analysis and testing for relationships and differences in means between variables.

Results: Data analysis results confirmed that it can be confidently concluded that the conceptual definition of PLQ was valid, and that positive PLQ perceptions of subordinate employees were significantly related to at least two other forms of desirable organisational outcomes.

Conclusion: PLQ perceptions can be confidently defined as a distinct subjective quality estimate that is assimilated from unique expectations and perceptions of the levels of compliance, fairness, good faith and trust that a supervisor displays in a labour relationship with an immediate subordinate.


labour; relationship; quality; supervision; theoretical; primary; construct


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