Finding a Voice at Work?: New Perspectives on Employment Relations

ISBN : 9780199668007

Stewart Johnstone; Peter Ackers
336 Pages
163 x 240 mm
Pub date
Feb 2015
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How much 'say' should employees have in the running of business organizations, and what form should the 'voice' take? This is both the oldest and latest question in employment relations. Answers to these questions reflect our fundamental assumptions about the nature of the employment relationship, and inform our views on almost every aspect of Human Resource Management (HRM) and Employment Relations. Voice can also mean different things to different people. For some, employee voice is a synonym for trade union representation which aims to defend and promote the collective interests of workers. For others voice, is means of enhancing employee commitment and organisational performance. Others advocate workers control as an alternative to conventional capitalist organisations which are run for shareholders. There is thus both a moral and political argument for a measure of democracy at work, as well as a business case argument, which views voice as a potential link in the quest for increased organisational performance. The key debate for employment relations is which of the approaches 'works best' in delivering outcomes which balance competitiveness and productivity, on the one hand, and fair treatment of workers and social justice on the other. Policy makers need pragmatic answers to enduring questions: what works best in different contexts, what are the conditions of success, and what are the drawbacks? Some of the most significant developments in employee voice have taken place within the European Union, with various public policy and employer experiments attracting extensive academic research. The book offers a critical assessment of the main contemporary concepts and models of voice in the UK and Europe, and provides an in-depth theoretical and empirical exploration of employee voice in one accessible and cohesive collection.


1. Introduction: Employee Voice: The Key Question for Contemporary Employment Relations
2. Frames of Reference & Worker Participation
3. Voice and Employee Engagement
4. Voice and Workforce Diversity
5. Trade Unions as Professional Associations
6. Union Organizing as an Alternative to Partnership. Or What to do When Employers Can't Keep Their Side of the Bargain
7. The Case for Workplace Partnership
8. Social Partnership in Devolved Nations: Scotland and Wales
9. Employee Participation in Germany: Tensions and Challenges
10. The Promise of European Works Councils: Twenty Years of Statutory Employee Voice
11. The EU Information and Consultation Directive in Liberal Market Economies
12. Making voice effective: imagining trade union responses to an era of post-industrial democracy
13. The Future of Employee Voice in the USA: Predictions from an Employment Relations Model of Voice

About the author: 

Stewart Johnstone is Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Newcastle University Business School and was previously Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Loughborough University. His specialist teaching includes Employment Relations and Human Resource Management courses at undergraduate, postgraduate, and executive levels. A major strand of Stewarts research has been the dynamics of employee voice and participation in both union and non-union firms. In particular, his research has examined organizational attempts to develop collaborative workplace relations in pursuit of mutual gains, and assessed the outcomes of such workplace partnerships for employers, employees, and unions.; Peter Ackers is Professor of Industrial Relations and Labour History in the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University, UK. He studied Politics and Philosophy (PPE, including Sociology) at Lincoln College, Oxford University, followed by an MA in Industrial Relations from Warwick University. His specialist teaching is in International Employment Relations, British Social History and Business Ethics. Peter's intellectual interests centre on the sociological and historical aspects of the employment relationship and how this affects ordinary people and society at large. His work stresses the moderate, constructive character of organized labour, with themes of partnership and pluralism, and challenges Radical and Marxist theories of Industrial Relations.

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