Some Tests of Employee Participation Indices
Empirical research on self-managed and participatory firms faces a major difficulty over the measurement of the key, participation variable. Indicators such as the proportion of workers belonging to a cooperative workers' financial stakes in the firm, the existence of a Works Council, the number of worker directors, and so on, which feature in previous work, capture only aspects of the phenpmenon. But the extent of employee envolvement in the actual running of the firm - "workers' ability to directly influence or form the management and work process in an enterprise" - can vary extensively under both cooperative and conventional production arrangements, in ways not necessarily caught by variables such as these. Where previous researchers have attempted to measure participation in the direct sense, they have typically assembled continuous indices by imposing a weighted structure on qualitative, survey-response or observed data. Espinosa and Zimbalist's (1978) work on Chilean cooperatives remains perhaps the most elaborate example. Their index takes account of the range of the firm's activities over which workers have influence, their role in the decision making process and the degree of ibfluence they are able to exert. Conceptually, the derivation of their index may be seen as calibrating the vector OP in figure 1.
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