Employee Involvement And Participation Commerce Essay


This paper reviews a wide range of practices (IS THIS WHAT YOU DO) covered by employee involvement and participation using from a variety of literature and compare these two types of employee voice mechanisms (involvement and participation) and also various forms of involvement/participation mechanisms. The evidence suggest that NEED TO ADD SOMETHING HERE, and evidence also suggest that NEED TO ADD SOMETHING HERE. The conclusion argues that NEED TO ADD SOMETHING HERE. In this respect, NEED TO ADD SOMETHING HERE. (Can also discuss achievements if any)


Introduction and Structure

Chapter 1

Definition of employee involvement and context

Definition of employee participation and context

Summary of the chapter

Chapter 2

Involvement - Theoretical framework

Participation - Theoretical framework

Employee involvement and participation in contrast

Chapter 3

Discussion and conclusion


Employee Involvement and participation (EIP) can be take various range of forms in practice and it is a widely accepted as a key component of high commitment bundle of human resource management (HRM).

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'Employee Involvement' (EI) is a recent term that has been enter to the British vocabulary mainly with in practitioners and academics during 1980's (Marchington, 1992). This represents the recent attempts by employers to identify ways managing their staff more participative, with support from government and employer's organisations up to certain extent. The employee involvement has replaced the industrial democracy and employee participation, which is, identified as earlier variants to employee involvement.

Employee involvement is a responsibility of the employer to involve or give an opportunity to the employees to become involved in the work that they performed and the organisation, beyond their minimal performance or the contractual wage/work expectation. But it can be argued that EI is fall short of 'participation' undoubtedly in decision-making. However EI practices sometimes give an opportunity to exercise influence (ex. Joint consultation or quality circles) but mostly it's influence the decision making segment of the business. Therefore, EI diverge from collective bargaining and industrial democracy, both are clearly the modes of power sharing within employees and management with use of their representatives.

However according to Marchington (1992) sometimes these terms are used interchangeably and there is no agreed common definition.

In this paper the main aim is to review the significant literature on the subject and to compare the two types of voice mechanisms (I.e. involvement and Participation) and to discuss various forms of involvement/participation mechanisms and finally to critically assess their effectiveness from point of management and employees.

Chapter 1

This chapter mainly contains with three sections. The first section aims to provide what actually the employee involvement is and how it originated. In the second section it defines the employee participation with a small historical background and finally in the third section it summarises the overall idea about employee involvement and participation.

Employee Involvement (EI)

EI can be defined as a wide range of practices, which helps to get the employees' support, high involvement and understanding at work place.

According to Beardwell & Claydon (2007), EI is a fundamental in most of HRM models. EI can be taken as the key theory of soft HRM. Storey (1996) argued that 'connotate a style of approach whose touchstones are the careful nurturing of, and investment in, the human stock' later Legge (2005) highlighted that soft developmental humanism model include ' treating employees as valued assets, a source of competitive advantage through their commitment, adaptability and high quality. Thus the commitment is generating by communication, motivation and leadership. So it can be argued that EI theory is grounded in unitary theory. , Which meant that 'managers and employees will march to the same tune'.

According to Beardwell and Claydon (2007) EI, is a system, which is, organise help and the appropriate knowledge of employees towards companies goals and Marchington (2005) states that, Involvement mechanisms include suggestion schemes, quality circles and team working.

Some criticized that employee involvement schemes 'extend little or no input into higher level decision making' and normally employees not engage in power and authority. (Hyman and Mason, 1995) so in cab say that employees are 'soft on power'. Thus it can be seen that employee involvement in higher decision-making is restricted.

Employee Participation

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Employee Participation can be defined as variety of practices by employee involvement, which gives the right to the employee in participating in decision-making process.

The phrase employee participation was initially brought up as a business strategy in the beginning of 1930. There was a significant boost in the human determination of productivity with the Hawthorne studies of Mayo (1993), Roethlisberger and Dickson (1939). The significance of the communication between the lower level employees and higher-level employees was identified with approach of human relation. According to Anthony, Perrewe and Kacmar (1993) there were not much research on the participation theory.

Cabrerea et al (2002) stated that lately there was an increasing practice in management with the substantial proof which employee participation helps to increase effort, which leads to the efficiency and productivity, which ultimately enhance the dedication and decrease the cost of supervision of the employees. (Doucouliagos, 1995).

Employee participation is based on pluralist theory. This is a viewpoint, which recognise the presence of different interests between different organisational stakeholders.

Chapter 2

In the first section of this chapter aims to discuss the different defining, theoretical concepts, debates and models on employee involvement and participation. Second part of this chapter discusses the employee involvement and participation in contrast.

Theoretical framework, models and definitions on EI & participation

Employee involvement Lit

According to Leana et al (1992), EI programmes are invented to solve the problems in US industry and highlighted that EI programmes leads to the higher improvements in productivity, quality and strength. The employee motivation is far better relationship between lower level & upper level staff. Leana & Florkowski (XXXX) state "this inclusion of employees is intrinsically rewarding in that it provides them with a greater sense of ownership or involvement in their work and a better understanding of both how their work can be done most effectively and management's perspective on the operation of the business" so this leads to the benefit of both employee and employer.

EI consistes techniques such as Suggestions schemes , Quality circles , Total quality management & Customer care. When reviewing the literature it can be seen that suggestion schemes will leads to the quality, high productivity and cost reduction. According to Townley(1989) highlighted that per year £8 m were estimated for the suggestion schemes. secondly quality circles which consist of small group of employees who meets regular basis to identify and solve the work related problems. It can be argued that when reviewing the literature on Quality circles, ( Hill F 1986) that former is a slightly important than the latter Yet Collard and Dale (1989) argued that 'enhanced employee development and satisfaction ranked higher than improved quality or service. Marginsons et al (1988) stated that Quality circles are more significant in manufacturing sector rather than service sector. Finally with the failure of the quality circles, that place was taken by Total Quality Management Technique.

When analysing the literature it can be argued that EI programmes, has helped organisations to increase their communication skills and the job satisfaction. Jurvich (1996) suggested that EI is a gate way to short term productivity of a firm and furthermore, for the joint programs there were so much obstacles and EI can leads to greater identification with management weakening of unions. Literature also states that for the new organisations EI has been a barrier. However according to the research studies EI not has to be weakening unions and not required to reflect organisation goals but when unions exist in an organisation they try to reflect union goals lending support to the union empowerment model of employee involvement. In 1980 along with these challenges EI has invented along with Suggestion Schemes and Quality Circles (QC) (Marchington, 1992). But with the invention of Total Quality Management circles, there was a huge improvement on EI in 1980s.

Dundon (2000) identified two findings from the analysis of changing pattern of the voice over time. a.) In 1992 employee involvement mechanism redesigned in to problem solving voice mechanism. Present variety of mechanisms like suggestion schemes, attitude survey teams working helps in managerial decision making. b.) collective voice. And there was a considerable change in union relations to the direct involvement. Joint consultation and the collective bargaining were there for non unionised employee representation. Managers used electronic media to communicate and ask the opinions from lower level staff.

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According to Wood & Wall (2007) employee voice include employee involvement this can be directly or through representative bodies in decision making process. Dundon (2007) provided an example from a transport firm which is arranged by the Managing director in a local pub and allowed all the drivers to participate it but middle managers were not allowed. MD recognised that is the best way to share the opinions and get information from the staff.

According to the literature on EI models, when analysing work carried out by Walton and Lawers (XXXX) on job enrichment, it includes both EI approaches high commitment and high involvement.

Walton (XXXX) mainly sees teams as the alternative as units of accountability. And also he stated that "teams were viewed as a possible high commitment practice", though he only says that they are 'often' within the high commitment approach and not that they are mandatory.

In Walton's piece of work enrichment taken as the main element. But according to Wood and wall (XXXX), Walton's model of participation contains variety of problems. Walton (XXXX) stated that the 'employee should have a say in the more general running of their organisation, proposed pay systems which is individual pay linked directly to skills.

When analysing the Lawler's (XXXX) high involvement, it has four dimensions. The first dimension is power, it's mainly about to ensure that lower level employees also have the power thus the decision can be decentralised. He also discussed about information sharing, developing knowledge and rewarding performance. He concluded by arguing that 'basing reward on organisations performance is one way to ensure that employees are involve and care about the organisation'. Since the suggestion making element of voice is included with work enrichment under power in Lawler et al's (XXXX) survey of high involvement management this dimension was enrichment practices and named as Parallel power sharing practices. This includes quality circles, employee participation groups. Lawler et al (XXXX) argued that union involvement is an advantage and assumed that the employee involvement programmes which have a low degree of union involvement are disturbing.

In 1996 From Holdens' research it is visible that when comparing the degree of involvement in Sweden and Britain, employees in Sweden were much more involved than Britain workers in micro level and felt separated when involved in strategic issues. From this research it can be justified that comparison of EI has been carried out also within the nationalities.

According to Mcmahan et al (1996), there are two main contributions to EI which were influenced by organisational development perspective. a.) Lower's work which highlighted involvement systems, which is differ from Becker and Huselid. b.) Dyer and Holder (1988) identified involvement type in their HR strategies.

To build up the employee involvement argument Mcmahan (1996) has used Lawler's high involvement model. When reviewing their work it can be argued that successful employee involvements rely on how broadly the organisation is adopting to that models.

Participation Lit

According to Heller et al (1998) defined participation as "a process which allows employees to exert some influence over their work and the conditions under which they work or a process in which influence on decision making is shared between hierarchical superiors and their subordinates"

Participation is a system/process of employee involvement in making decisions and sharing information. According to Geary and Sisson (1994), Participation can be divided in to a.) Direct, which includes employees themselves; Consultative & Delegative are the two types of direct participation. In consultative participation managers support employees to share their opinions in different terms but employees are not allowed to make the final decisions such as meetings. Delegative: gives the employee more freedom and self governance to organise their own jobs such as scheduling work b.) Indirect, includes employee representative bodies like trade unions (Cotton et al, 1988).

According to Anthony (1978), Frost et al (1974) and Miller (1986) had argued that the prospective of direct participation deals with two theoretical models of effects a.) Cognitive model of participative effects b.)Affective models of participative effect. Cognitive model helps to increase the flow of information by employee involvement. Often employees performing seemingly unimportant tasks have access to valuable information. By different participative management practices higher level managers are trying to increase their access to the above mentioned information. Thus Lawler et al (1995) identified that for the higher performance & efficiency, the employee must feel the freedom to share their ideas with the higher level. Blake and Gregerson (1964) and Likert (1967) identified affective model which was previously discussed in human relation. Miller and Monge (1986) has argued that, employee involvement accomplish higher order needs which lead to the higher contentment and this satisfaction validate the motivation which ultimately leads to the higher productivity.

The participation schemes have a long running history of employers who seeks to resist their encroachment, so it can be argued that participation schemes are much more strengthen the managerial power.

Blyton & Turnbull (1998) argued that the 'participation' is a pluralistic approach with a range from 'no involvement' to 'employee control'. As such it may involve processes and mechanisms such as:

- Collective bargaining - Employee share schemes

- Works councils - Worker directors

- Joint Consultative Committees - European Works Councils

Much of the literature on employee participation had focused on the effect of participation. According to the Meta analysis conducted by Miller (1986), it can be visible that employee involvement. Despite this plethora of studies, there is little known as to which factors determine the level of employee involvement than an organisation will likely adopt.

Hodgkinson (1996) stated that participations mechanisms are influenced by the political environment. European companies have highlighted the advantage of the participation mechanisms and also stated the right of employee participation.

When analysing the research carried out by the Poole & Mansfield (1993) it can be seen that, in countries like USA and UK, unitary methods has highlighted the managers right in inventing individualistic consultative mechanisms. It highlighted that rather than representative bodies they have to have direct communication with the employees. According to Hodgkinson (1996) it can be argued that, in an unstable market to gain the competitive advantage mechanisms like participation are developed by the managers.

It can be seen that with the time, in joint labour management processes unions are more likely to participate. And also the attitude of unions for the participation can be differ from country to country (Anglo countries).

It can be argued that participation is another way to unionism and also it has a long lasting life when it's in unionised working culture. However the power of the unions may vary with the countries legislative requirements and the availability of the resources for conducting regular activities. According to US Labour Department reports in 1995, in Germany there can be seen a great relationship between the unions and the other participative mechanisms.

In 1970s Ramsay's Cycle confirmed the validity of the declining of participation . Ramsay highlighted various issues in participation schemes like ' arose out of a managerial response to threat to its authority from labour etc.' Lately Harvie developed the cycle theory by stating that because of the new managerial offensives the potential for the industrial democracy has ' swept under the carpets'

Marchington et al (1993) argued that 'cycle thesis could not account for growth in the number of employees involvement schemes from the mid 1980s onwards. And also stated that unions lacked power and would have been the cycle theses prediction in decline in participation.

Employee involvement and participation in contrast

When analysing the literature it can be seen that some writers seen involvement and participation is equivalent in terms but sum argued that involvement and participation differs from each other. Typical examples are Lawler (1991); identified participation is equivalent to involvement which includes power, information, knowledge and reward. But other writers such as Cotton et al (1998) saw involvement which included influence sharing, participative decision making, participation, and empowerment. When analysing the literature it can be argued that European working systems have high involvement through formal power sharing and representative systems.

The link between EIP and employee voice

When analysing literature it can be argued that employee voice involve both employee involvement and participation. In 1992 McCabe and Lewin has defined the voice, which include two main elements. First is the expression of complaints or grievances in a work context by employees to management and the second is the participation of the employees in decision making process. And according to Millward et al (2000), voice can be defined in three areas. a.) through trade union membership/representative bodies b.) Indirect participation mechanisms like joint consultation c.) Employee involvement.

Dundon (2004) has stated that unions, joint consultation and collective bargaining have declined over a period of time. Yet he has identified that direct employee involvement has increased dramatically such as communication, techniques of problem solving.

Dundon et al (2004) has highlighted that the US literature on human resource management had widen the concept of voice away from a single channel of workers representation towards one that views it as capable of being articulated through a variety of channels.

Figure 2 - Forms of employee voice (article- another paper)

According to wood and wall (2007) mentioned that EI centrally illustrated by Lawler's (XXXX) choice of label. Lawer and Benson (2003) mentioned EI as "providing lower-level employees with opportunities to make decisions concerning the conduct of their jobs and to participate in the business as a whole".

It can be seen that job enrichment deals with designing of the job so then the employee have a high degree in decision making. But the employee voice which is in the organisational level, this was done by the employee involvement in directly or via representative bodies. This concept was initially developed by Hirchman in 1971 to represent one of the alternatives that people have. Then Freeman and Medoff (XXXX) used Hirchmans' concept of exit voice, which means employees' leave organisation, voice means the workers express their dissatisfaction. Also they have taken trade unions as a mechanism for expressing grievances. From the above mentioned studies they able to find out, there is a positive impact from trade unions on organisations performance and assumes that it will leads to the employees satisfaction and it will help to reduce labour turn over. Furthermore, Walton and Lawler see employee voice will leads to the high performance.

enrichment and decentralized decision making but later on organisational level involvement deals as synonymous with employee voice.

Pluralist & Unitarist Philosophies

According to Beardwell & Claydon (2007), the employee participation is based on pluralist thinking unlike employee involvement which described as Unitarist. Unitarism and Pluralism is complex terms that consist of long histories. They offer different prospective on employee relationships and organizations.

The General philosophy of the pluralist is that an organization consists with people with a diversity of aims, aspirations and interests. No party is dominates another due to the way that power is diffused between the main bargaining groups. Pluralism implies that employee relationships are open-ended and indeterminate and they observe the role of state as to secure public interest and control the power of the strong to protect weak. Management should not expect blind agreement of suppress any ideas or aims that conflict with its own. The aim is to reconcile conflicting opinions and keep the conflict within acceptable bounds so that the conflict does not destroy the enterprise. Unions act as the lawful representatives of employee interests. They have the right to challenge the right to manage with the liability of compromising. According to the Pluralism within workplace conflicts are inevitable.

The General philosophy of the Unitarist is that all workplaces are incorporated and well-balanced entity that caters a common purpose. In recognition of their common objectives employees should be loyal to the organization and its management. Unions are to involve in the loyalty and commitment of employees. According to unitarism naturally there are no conflicts in the workplace, if there is a conflict that is due to miscommunication, failure of understanding the commonality of interests and work of activist. But when analyse each approach (Pluralist & Unitarist) it can be argued that none of the organizations are fully pluralist or fully unitarist and both offers benefits to individual employees as well s for the organisation. When within the organization either of concepts runs out of balance huge problems of either approach could arise.

Involvement and Participation Mechanism - Decision Making

In Hodgkinson's paper (1996), He has highlighted various mechanisms of employee involvement and participation in decision making. When analysing the literature it can be seen during 1980 that there was an improvement in the EI and participation mechanisms in decision making process. Following figure illustrates the typology of involvement and participation mechanisms.

With Individual Workers with Worker Representatives

Communication Newsletters (downward) Board Representatives

Channels Suggestion Schemes (upward) Discussions with Union

Informal Meetings Delegates

Quality Circles Discussions with Full-time union officials

Attitude Surveys (upward)

Decision Making Fully or Semi Autonomous Works Councils*

Work Groups Joint Consultative

Formal Meetings Committees*

Special Committees*

Worker Directors

Figure 1: Typology of Involvement and Participation Mechanisms

When comparing the employee involvement and participation, in task orientated work, it can be argued that participation is more power orientated than involvement as it deals with joint decision making and determination therefore; this could leads to conflicts and strikes. The dispute of fire-fighters in 2003 can take as the recent example for this.

According to Hodgkinson (1996) highlighted EI mechanism, which managers consider lower level employee's ideas in decision making process. But Hyman & Mason (1995) suggest employee participation gives employees a major part in decision making process.

Beardwell and Claydon (2007) states "Participation is also helps to gain to relatively higher order 'range' of decision than that provided by the machinery of employee involvement."

Participation can also taken as a political process contributing to decision making in in managerial level which is opposite to the 'socio - technical nature' of employee involvement that limit substantial employee influence to narrow production issues (Abrahamson1997)

When analysing the industrial relation literature it can be argued that employee involvement and participation were equally in terms. Involvement as scene as system which gives a positive attitude which develops fairness at the working environment. But later on the idea about the EI was developed by Adams (2005) where he sees involvement mainly as motivation. But in general, the results suggest that employee involvement has a very little impact on job satisfaction and performance compared to participation.


When analysing the research method that has been carried out in EI and participation literature, it can be seen that writers have used both qualitative and quantitative methods to analyse data.

Some research have been carried out to analyse the degree of involvement in country wise. Holdens (1996) research was to analyse the degree of involvement of the employees in micro and macro level decision making in Sweden and Britain banks. Holden used methodology of triangulation which includes qualitative and quantitative approaches like interviews by visiting two banks with the employees and sending them a questionnaire.

In the Dundonet al's paper, to identify the different practices of employee voice the data was collected from 18 different organisations (organisation by size , structure and ownership). He used only qualitative methods like interviewing workers.

Hodson's research was mainly based mainly on work place ethnographies which contains good information on employee relation. By using ethnographies he tried to overcome limits from earlier case studies. By returning to the theoretical clarification of main findings he tried to recontexualize the data. This type of researches help to combine the qualitative and quantitative data .

Research on impact on EI was carried out by testimonial approach where they ask questions from managers.

Limitations and Future Research

When reviewing the literature it can be seen that there are limitations in current research. Kelly and Harison (1991) highlighted that most of their samples contains EI and hardly ever compare those firms without EI. Juravich identified that some case studies which evaluates impact of EI is evaluating the firm performance.

It is possible to argue that there were considerable limitations for the data.


When analysing the literature in EI, it can be visible that there were no sufficient details for decision making by unions. Research was carried out by using qualitative research methods which include interviews past literature. As an example the research conducted by Guillermo in 1987 on Quality circles and anti unionism in American industry.. and also this can be taken as rigorous piece of work. According to Jurvich ( 1996)EI has been changing over periods, it has variety of findings but the most steady finding is that organisations programmes changes attitudes and also according to Driscoll (1980),that change in attitudes include job satisfaction and higher communication skills.

Discussion and Conclusion

Discussion and conclusions

This paper has given a reasonable understanding of Employee Involvement and Participation and also argued that there is a requirement to measure quality of the EIP and also suggested how to achieve this. The topic of Employee involvement and participation is a broad topic that consist of three related but distant subjects i.e. employee involvement, employee participation and industrial democracy but this paper only discuss about employee involvement (EI) which is the variety that ranging from limited task employee input through to participation which is the combined decision making.

Direct participation improves the organisational performance by generally capturing the employee creativity.

Programs in Employee Involvement most possibly involving in change attitudes which includes improve communication skills as well as job satisfaction. And it has also identified that EI could lead sufficient quality and productivity improvements but EI is unlikely make a significant change alone.

But when analyse each approach it can be argued that none of the organizations are fully pluralist or fully unitarist and both offers benefits to individual employees as well s for the organisation. When within the organization either of concepts runs out of balance huge problems of either approach could arise.

In general, the results suggest that employee involvement has a very little impact on job satisfaction and performance.

When analysing the industrial relation literature it can be argued that employee involvement and participation were equally in terms. Involvement as scene as system which gives a positive attitude which develops fairness at the working environment. But later on the idea about the EI was developed by Adams (2005) where he sees involvement mainly as motivation.

When analysing the industrial relation literature it can be argued that employee involvement and participation were equally in terms.

Nowadays it can be argued that Participation is the most realistic mechanism in the work place culture.

But it can be argued that EI is fall short of 'participation' undoubtedly in decision-making.