Employee Participation and Organisational Culture
This special issue of the German Journal of Human Resource Research sets out to clarify the functioning of employee participation and involvement, paying attention to the explanatory power that the concept of corporate culture has for these phenomena. The following papers concentrate on different aspects of this complex field. The first paper, by Magnus Sverke, Johnny Hellgren, Katharina Näswall, Sara Göransson, and Jan Öhrming, examines the effects of participation. Generally employee participation is conceived to facilitate implementation of organizational change. Going beyond this research tradition the authors investigate whether participation may reduce the negative effects of downsizing. Therefore they compare two Swedish hospitals that implemented downsizing in different ways. Among others, they can show that employee participation is positively associated with employee work attitudes and well-being at both hospitals. This paper provides further evidence for the importance of participation in diverse processes of organizational change. In the second paper, Nicolas Aubert investigates the role of employee share purchase plans in developing an ownership culture. The author has conducted semi structured interviews with French experts specialized in employee savings asset management, the results being controlled by interviews with employees. Thereby, this paper gives interesting insights into the actual functioning of ownership models in France, which are usually hard to understand from abroad. In the third paper, Thomas Steger and Ronald Hartz analyze power relations in employee-owned companies located in the former German Democratic Republic. By providing three case studies, the authors consider the situation in companies introducing different forms of employee ownership in order to rescue the firm from bankruptcy and to secure employment. Existing literature is ambivalent about the consequences of such a solution, so knowledge about the processes initialized in this case is needed. The propositions the authors derive from their research are very helpful in understanding the power dynamic produced by crisis induced employee ownership. Next, Wolfgang Weber, Christine Unterrainer, and Thomas Höge examine effects of structurally anchored organizational democracy on perceived socio-moral atmosphere and on employees’ prosocial, democratic behavioral orientations. In their stimulating study they identify three groups of organizational democracy, they call social partnership and conventional employee-owned enterprises, democratic employee-owned enterprises and hierarchical enterprises. In a sophisticated research design they show that between these different types of organizational democracy there are a significant differences in prosocial and democratic behavioral orientations and in socio-moral atmosphere. In times when large global enterprises are accused of corruption, this kind of research offers valuable insights into the moral culture of companies and the consequences for attitudes and behavior of employees. Finally, Erko Martins, Alexander Pundt, Claes S. Horsmann, and Friedemann W. Nerdinger introduce the concept of organizational culture of participation. A company has a culture of participation if it uses forms of employee participation permanently, intentionally and preferentially to solve opening and integration problems effectively and sustainably, thus facilitating the adaptation to altering environmental conditions. They show that this kind of organizational culture can be differentiated into three types regarding the dominating group with respect to participation – leader promoted, employee promoted and institution promoted cultures of participation. An empirical study for validating a measure of the types of culture delivers evidence that these types can be differentiated regarding attitudes and behaviors of employees, namely commitment, psychological ownership and innovative behavior.
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