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Leeway for the Loyal: A Model of Employee Discretion

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  • Francis Green

Abstract

This article examines the factors underlying task discretion from an economist's perspective. It argues that the key axis for understanding discretion is the trade‐off between the positive effects of discretion on potential output per employee and the negative effects of greater leeway on work effort. In empirical analysis using matched employer–employee data, it is shown that discretion is strongly affected by the level of employee commitment. In addition, discretion is generally greater in high‐skilled jobs, although not without exceptions, and lower where employees are under‐skilled. Homeworking and flexitime policies raise employee discretion. The impact of teamworking is mixed. In about half of cases team members do not jointly decide about work matters, and the net effect of teams on task discretion in these cases is negative. In other cases, where team members do decide matters jointly, the impact is found to be neutral according to employees' perceptions, or positive according to managers' perceptions. There are also significant and substantial unobserved establishment‐level factors which affect task discretion.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis Green, 2008. "Leeway for the Loyal: A Model of Employee Discretion," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 1-32, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:46:y:2008:i:1:p:1-32
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8543.2007.00666.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bryson, Alex & Freeman, Richard B., 2007. "Doing the right thing? does fair share capitalism improve workplace performance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4964, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Frederick Guy & Peter Skottz, 2005. "Power-Biased Technological Change and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," Working Papers 06, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
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    Cited by:

    1. Melanie K. Jones & Paul L. Latreille & Peter J. Sloane, 2016. "Job Anxiety, Work-Related Psychological Illness and Workplace Performance," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(4), pages 742-767, December.
    2. Bjorn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2012. "Screening, Competition, and Job Design: Economic Origins of Good Jobs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 834-864, April.
    3. Masakure, Oliver, 2016. "The effect of employee loyalty on wages," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 274-298.
    4. David Marsden, 2013. "Individual Voice in Employment Relationships: A Comparison under Different Forms of Workplace Representation," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52, pages 221-258, January.
    5. repec:eee:soceco:v:76:y:2018:i:c:p:1-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Hande Inanc, 2016. "Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 389-411, February.
    7. Jones, Melanie K & Latreille, Paul L & Sloane, Peter J, 2011. "NILS Working paper no 180. Job anxiety, work-related psychological illness and workplace performance," NILS Working Papers 26078, National Institute of Labour Studies.
    8. David Marsden & Richard Belfield, 2010. "Institutions and the Management of Human Resources: Incentive Pay Systems in France and Great Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(2), pages 235-283, June.
    9. repec:kap:jbuset:v:144:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2848-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Festré, Agnès, 2018. "Do people stand by their commitments? Evidence from a classroom experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-6.
    11. David Marsden, 2010. "Individual Voice in Employment Relationships: A Comparison Under Different Collective Voice Regimes," CEP Discussion Papers dp1006, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. Oliver Masakure & Kris Gerhardt, 2016. "Employee Commitment and Wages in the Private Sector," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(1), pages 38-60, March.
    13. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Hande Inanc, 2016. "Job-Related Well-Being Through the Great Recession," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 389-411, February.
    14. Melanie K. Jones, 2016. "Disability and Perceptions of Work and Management," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 54(1), pages 83-113, March.
    15. Johanna Weststar, 2009. "Worker Control as a Facilitator in the Match between Education and Jobs," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 47(4), pages 723-740, December.
    16. Russo, Giovanni, 2016. "Job Design and Skill Developments in the Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 10207, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. William Brown & David Marsden, 2010. "Individualisation and Growing Diversity of Employment Relationships," CEP Discussion Papers dp1037, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    18. André Cieplinski, 2018. "Supervision and Work Content: Industry level evidence," Department of Economics University of Siena 776, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

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