This chapter has provided an o

This chapter has provided an overview and discussion of employee voice from an international and comparative perspective. The concepts of employee voice, employee involvement and employee participation were explained before the EU was presented as the only regional international entity with some common rules and regulations in this area. The diverse nature of EU member states alongside the flexibility provided to them in implementing relevant legislation was, however, found to be preventing the emergence of a common approach to employee voice across the EU.
The examination of national models identified two broad groupings of countries among the advanced industrialized economies: those with ‘mandatory’ employee voice systems and those with ‘voluntarist’ systems. While the former have developed binding rules and regulations regarding employee participation for employers to follow, the latter generally give managers the freedom to implement whatever employee voice policies and practices they see fit to adopt. A central focus of the discussion in this section was the impact of globalization on mandatory system countries. The example of Germany illustrated how processes of globalization and wider economic change are to a significant extent undermining mandatory employee voice systems. The policies and practices of multinational firms pose a particular challenge for such countries.
The final section of the chapter addressed the practice of employee voice in developing or industrializing countries. It was noted that while there is great diversity between these countries, in general terms, addressing cultural rather than institutional influences and considerations can be seen to constitute the primary challenge for managers of multinational firms operating in such contexts. Cultural considerations were found to heavily influence employee voice practices in China, the developing country chosen to be the focus of this section. Here, the ancient philosophical system of Confucianism was
found to constitute an important influence on contemporary organizational life, emphasizing hierarchy and status but at the same time a sense of common identity and paternalistic relationships between managers and employees. Alongside this, the pervasive structures and policies established by the Communist Party over recent decades were also noted to be highly significant. In particular, the SOEs set up by the Chinese government were found to have inhibited the exercise of employee voice in organizational decision-making due to their rigid, bureaucratic and hierarchical management structures and approaches. When combined, these elements of the Chinese context make the adoption of employee voice policies and practices challenging for multinational managers, Gamble’s research from the retail sector demonstrated how it may be possible for MNCs to implement such policies in China, provided this process is managed carefully. In addition, survey evidence demonstrates Chinese employees’ desire for input into organizational decision-making, which should provide encouragement for multinationals to adopt policies in this regard.

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