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High-Involvement Management Practices, Trade Union Representation And Workplace Performance In Britain

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  • Alex Bryson
  • John Forth
  • Simon Kirby

Abstract

Debates about Britain's productivity performance have often drawn attention to the roles played by working practices and employment relations. In the 1980s and 1990s, trade unions were a prime focus; more recently, attention has turned to high-involvement management (HIM) practices (also referred to as 'high-performance work systems'). We combine the two to investigate the relationships between work organisation, trade union representation and workplace performance. We find that HIM has a positive impact on labour productivity. However, this effect is restricted to unionised workplaces, and seems more readily explained by concessionary wage bargaining than 'mutual gains', given the absence of any association with financial performance. These findings raise questions about the universal applicability of HIM as a route to improved workplace performance. Copyright (c) Scottish Economic Society 2005.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Bryson & John Forth & Simon Kirby, 2005. "High-Involvement Management Practices, Trade Union Representation And Workplace Performance In Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 52(3), pages 451-491, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scotjp:v:52:y:2005:i:3:p:451-491
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Forth, 2000. "The determinants of pay levels and fringe benefit provision in Britain," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 171, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    2. Addison, John T. & Belfield, Clive R., 2004. "Unions, Training, and Firm Performance: Evidence from the British Workplace Employee Relations Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1264, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Bryson, Alex & Wilkinson, David, 2002. "Collective bargaining and workplace performance: an investigation using the workplace employee relations survey 1998," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4995, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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