Last decades scholars in the field of human resource management (HRM) have intensely examined the contribution of HRM to organizational performance. Despite their efforts, at least one major research shortcoming can be identified. In general, they have devoted far too little attention to an aspect of HRM potentially beneficial for organizational performance: worker participation, and especially its indirect or representative forms. In contrast, for academics embedded in the industrial relations tradition, worker participation is a prominent theme, even though less emphasized in its relationship with company objectives. One might defend traditional scholars' reservations by arguing that participations main goal concerns workplace democratization and not organizational prosperity. However, several writers state that industrial democracy involving worker participation can channel conflicts of interest between employees and employers and stimulate desired employee attitudes and behavior, consequently enhancing organizational performance (e.g., Gollan, 2006; Ramsay, 1991; Taras & Kaufman, 1999). And, indeed, several studies have shown positive effects of both direct participation (e.g., European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 1997) and indirect participation (e.g., Addison et al., 2000, 2003; Frick & Möller, 2003) on organizational performance.
Nevertheless, to date, the absence of an integrated model explaining the connection between worker participation and organizational performance leads to the following question that still is in need of an answer: how do direct and indirect forms of participation – separate as well as in combination – affect organizational performance? This chapter aims to contribute to the filling of the aforementioned knowledge gaps. In so doing, we focus on direct and indirect, nonunion participation on the firm level, using a Western European and especially Dutch frame of reference
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