Management and incomes policy
Tweedie, David P.
The difficulty of achieving Britain's economic objectives has resulted in successive governments searching for a new and effective economic tool to use in addition to existing fiscal and monetary policies. This instrument could be the prices and incomes policy which has been evolved in an attempt to solve the problem persisting in many developed economies; that of controlling the growth of inflation while maintaining full employment.While the national leaders of employers federations and trade unions have expressed their views on the policy, little is known about the views of practicing managers and rank and file trade unionists, ie. the men involved in actually imp- lementing the policy. This study attempted to bridge part of this gap and sought to discover the extent of managers' understanding of and their opinions on many features of the prices and incomes policy. The report was based on a survey of the opinions of 270 senior managers engaged in a wide range of manufacturing industries.The most general finding was that the respondents' know- ledge of the prices and incomes policy was somewhat limited. Despite the imperfect understanding of both the policy and its aims, considerable support existed for such a measure. The managers with a greater degree of comprehension of Britain's economic difficulties and the prices and incomes policy were, however, more inclined to support the policy than those with a lower level of understanding. To examine this finding more closely a study was made of environmental factors which could have affected the respondents° knowledge of the policy with a view to discovering means of raising managements' apparent low level of understanding of economic affairs.It was also discovered that the majority of the respond- ents believed that a prices and incomes policy had a role to play in Britain's economic future. Opinion, however, was di- vided over the issue of whether the policy should be a permanent feature of economic policy or used only as an in- strument of control at times of crisis. To enhance the pro- spects of the policy's success most of the respondents thought that the Government would have to use powers of compulsion.Information was also obtained about the respondents' views on a second role for the policy as an arbiter of social justice in determining the relative level of incomes. This facet of the policy also received general approval.The overall conclusion of this research is that Govern- ment and management should be more fully aware of each other's views. This, it would seem, would lay the foundations of a deeper understanding on both sides and increase the managers' willingness to co-operate with the Government.