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 6: High performance work systems and employee voice

Bill Harley


Since the 1990s, 'high performance work systems' (HPWS) theory has risen in prominence in the field of human resource management (HRM) and has become the dominant model of links between HRM and organizational performance. Employee voice has been central to many accounts of HPWS and indeed has been accorded considerable weight in theoretical arguments about how HRM drives organizational performance. This makes a consideration of the role of voice in HPWS essential in understanding the contemporary sphere of HRM. This chapter considers the theoretical debates and the evidence concerning the role of voice in HPWS. It begins with theoretical concerns and explains how voice has been conceptualized in the HPWS literature as involving both direct and indirect forms of employee input to decisions. The chapter then considers the theoretical debates about direct and indirect forms of voice and highlights the lack of agreement about key issues. Discussion then turns to the research evidence about HPWS and voice. While the research has provided valuable insights, the evidence remains partial, fragmented and ambiguous, restricting the conclusions we can draw about the role of voice in HPWS. Based on recognition of the limits of our current empirical knowledge, the chapter concludes with consideration of possible future trajectories for research.

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