Handbook of Research on Employee Voice
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Handbook of Research on Employee Voice

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman

The term ‘employee voice’ refers to the ways and means through which employees can attempt to have a say and influence organizational issues that affect their work and the interests of managers and owners. The concept is distinct, but related to and often overlapping with issues such as participation, involvement and, more recently, engagement. This Handbook provides an up-to-date survey of the current research into employee voice, sets this research into context and sets a marker for future research in the area.
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Chapter 5: Industrial democracy in the twenty-first century

Janice Foley


Voice is said to be the current form of industrial democracy available in the industrialized economies (Marchington, 2007). According to Kulkarni (2010: 443), 'having a voice' means that 'employees are free to achieve what they value'. But the essence of industrial democracy goes beyond voice, because it was workers' search for social justice and the need to reform the inequities of free market capitalism that first gave rise to demands for industrial democracy (Lichtenstein and Harris, 1993). The values being pursued were freedom, self-determination, human dignity and respect in a capitalist environment that was uninterested in workers' needs and desires. It should be recalled that at that time, unions were in their infancy, wages were low, working conditions harsh, and job security at risk for those who dared to challenge their employers. It was not until the onset of World War I that some measure of industrial democracy was introduced into workplaces in an effort to maintain wartime production (Hancock et al., 1991). Many claims have been made in support of industrial democracy, among them potentially improved decision-making and job satisfaction, more cooperative relationships between workers and management, and increased organizational effectiveness (Huddleston, 1972; Purcell and Georgiadis, 2007).

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