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What Do Workers Want? The Shortfall in Employee Participation at the European Workplace


  • Addison, John T.

    () (University of South Carolina)

  • Teixeira, Paulino

    () (University of Coimbra)


A shortfall in employee voice attendant upon union decline has long been forewarned. Data from the third European Company Survey is used to establish perceived shortfalls in employee involvement based on the responses of employee representatives in establishments where formal workplace employee representation is practiced. Among the main findings is that the desire for greater involvement in decision making is smaller where representation is via a works council-type apparatus rather than through the agency of a union body. Similar, albeit more pronounced marginal effects are associated with information provision, most notably where employee representatives are (a) 'satisfactorily' informed on a variety of establishment issues or (b) are asked to give their opinions/involved in joint decisions in the event of some major human resource decision. The latter results are robust to subsets of the data based on variations in trust between the parties and the perceived quality of the industrial relations climate, where there is an overwhelming desire for more participation in those circumstances in which management is adjudged uncooperative and untrustworthy. On net, it remains the case that a shortfall in employee participation is observed across all types of establishments in the sample and, by extension, it would appear to those without any workplace representation at all.

Suggested Citation

  • Addison, John T. & Teixeira, Paulino, 2018. "What Do Workers Want? The Shortfall in Employee Participation at the European Workplace," IZA Discussion Papers 11506, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11506

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Forth, John & Bryson, Alex & George, Anitha, 2016. "Explaining Cross-National Variation in Workplace Employee Representation," IZA Discussion Papers 9963, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Steen Thomsen & Caspar Rose & Dorte Kronborg, 2016. "Employee representation and board size in the Nordic countries," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 471-490, December.
    3. Giedo Jansen, 2014. "Effects of Union Organization on Strike Incidence in EU Companies," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 67(1), pages 60-85, January.
    4. Alex Bryson & Paul Willman & Rafael Gomez & Tobias Kretschmer, 2013. "The Comparative Advantage of Non-Union Voice in B ritain, 1980–2004," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52, pages 194-220, January.
    5. Barry T. Hirsch, 2004. "What Do Unions Do for Economic Performance?," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(3), pages 415-456, July.
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    More about this item


    formal workplace employee representation; works councils; union agencies; information/consultation/participation deficits; union density; country heterogeneity; industrial relations quality;

    JEL classification:

    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights

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