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Employee involvement and participation : developing the concept of institutional embeddedness using WERS2004

Cox, A and Marchington, Mick and Suter, J (2009) Employee involvement and participation : developing the concept of institutional embeddedness using WERS2004. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20 (10). pp. 2150-2168. ISSN 0958-5192

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Abstract

It is widely accepted that employee involvement and participation (EIP) is a key component of the high commitment bundle of HRM, but that it can take a range of forms in practice. Much of the analysis to date has either treated different forms of EIP as a single construct or has measured EIP by virtue of its presence or absence alone. Drawing on earlier work based on the data from WERS1998 examining the link between various forms of EIP and employee outcomes such as job satisfaction and organisational commitment, the authors re-apply and extend these ideas to data from WERS2004. In particular they develop the concept of institutional embeddedness, in order argue that both the depth and breadth of EIP have important associations with commitment though not with satisfaction. This association held for workplaces employing 25 or more workers, and here it was apparent that the more that employees are involved at workplace level – through a wider number of EIP practices that are held more frequently and include opportunities for workers to have their say – the more likely it is that investments in EIP will reap the reward of organisational commitment. For smaller establishments, given that they tend to operate with relatively few formal schemes, it is likely that managers in these workplaces find alternative ways in which to engage the workforce, and that informal EIP offer similar levels of embeddedness in these situations. A clear implication to be drawn from the findings is that, in a context of lower levels of formality within organisations (large and small), line managers are more than ever the key link between HR policy and the embodiment of actual practice at the workplace.