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 10: The role of line managers in employee voice systems

Keith Townsend


The notion of employee voice has been well established in the earlier chapters of this volume. Simply put, we are defining employee voice as the way employees are provided with an opportunity to have a 'say' over decisions that are made within organizations: this notion is central to most definitions (Marchington and Suter, 2013; Freeman et al., 2007) and goes beyond the simplest forms of participation which include managerial information sharing and communication. This chapter will use the term 'employee involvement' interchangeably with voice. Despite the broad body of literature written about works councils, joint consultative committees, worker participation and, more recently, a great deal of research on non-union forms of voice, questions and under-investigated areas remain (Wilkinson and Fay, 2011). One such under-investigated area concerns the role that line managers play within voice regimes. The research suggesting that employee voice is important within organizations is well established; the argument goes that voice allows employees to have a productive interaction with employers which results in a better understanding of what is expected from each party and, consequently, benefits will flow for either side. However, voice cannot be parachuted into an organization at an employer's whim. A culture whereby voice is embedded within the organization provides more effective, sustained results for all parties (Cox et al., 2006).

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