Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Paul Kamolnick, Joseph O. Baker


For decades, union membership and activity has been declining in North America; employers have demanded greater flexibility and have successfully weakened workplace and worker protections. Modern workers increasingly use alternative strategies to negotiate conditions of employment with managers who have limited their discretionary power. Negotiated order theory provides a useful tool for analyzing the mesostructural arrangements of bargaining parties during labor disputes. This thesis applies negotiated order theory to explore how and why the National Football League (NFL) players have twice decertified their union and sought court intervention to challenge the legitimacy of the League's highly restrictive reserve system. An outcome-focused content analysis was designed as a preliminary investigation to ascertain why an alternative strategy was sought and if the strategy proved more effective in securing the players' preferred ends than conventional collective bargaining. The NFL case offers a fixed market from which to formulate a negotiation context of the interorganizational structures and bargaining interactions of its members.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.