Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
In this chapter we look at how the idea of voice can be applied to the actual work that employees do. In other words, how much say do employees have in deciding what tasks they perform and how they perform them? We shall see in the first main section of the chapter how current trends in the restructuring of work - particularly the development of team-based systems - are, on the face of it, consistent with, and to some degree actually based on, the enhancement of employee voice (or, as we shall also call it, autonomy or discretion). A full picture, however, requires that we take a number of qualifying considerations into account. In the next section we look at how issues of autonomy play out in work systems based on 'lean' principles, in which task-based voice appears to be largely absent. We then address the implications for management of giving employees a greater say in how their work is conducted, before looking at the relationship between employee voice at an individual and at a team level and, finally, at the relationship between task-based voice and organizational performance. We conclude the chapter by drawing together these various threads and, in doing so, we try to identify the areas in which organizational practice and academic research might most usefully be focused.
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