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Managerial attitudes are often seen as critical to sustainable employee participation practices, yet very little is known about how managers act within employee voice fora. We examine managements' decision to actively consult with employees, and by doing so contribute to industrial relations debates concerning the role of managerial prerogative and trust to better understand the attitudes of managers towards elected employee representatives. Using evidence from a 2-year longitudinal study of non-union employee representation, we report on how managements' perception of risk about sharing information with employee representatives influences their decision as to how to consult with employees. The findings show that managers can be unwilling to share information with employee representatives, which constrains the depth and scope of consultation. The role of management decision-makers, typically the I&C fora Chairperson, is highlighted as champion for, or obstacle to, consultation. Lastly, the data illustrate that I&C is viewed by management as a lower strategic organizational priority, and how extending worker voice is constrained by the importance management place on This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Received:  December  Accepted:  October 
DOI: ./bjir.
Inside the meetings: The role of managerial
attitudes in approaches to information and
consultation for employees
Nadia K. Kougiannou1Adrian Wilkinson2,3
Tony Dundon4,5
Human Resource Management Division,
Nottingham Business School, Nottingham
Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Griffith Business School, Griffith
University, Nathan, Queensland,
University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
KEMMY Business School, University of
Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Work & Equalities Institute (WEI),
AMBS, University of Manchester
Dr Nadia K. Kougiannou, Human
Resource Management Division, Not-
tingham Business School, Nottingham
Trent University, Newton th Floor,
Shakespeare Street, NottinghamNG FQ,
Managerial attitudes are often seen as critical to sustain-
able employee participation practices, yet very little is
known about how managers act within employee voice
fora. We examine managements’ decision to actively
consult with employees, and by doing so contribute to
industrial relations debates concerning the role of man-
agerial prerogative and trust to better understand the
attitudes of managers towards elected employee repre-
sentatives. Using evidence from a -year longitudinal
study of non-union employee representation, we report
on how managements’ perception of risk about sharing
information with employee representatives influences
their decision as to how to consult with employees. The
findings show that managers can be unwilling to share
information with employee representatives, which con-
strains the depth and scope of consultation. The role
of management decision-makers, typically the I&C fora
Chairperson, is highlighted as champion for, or obsta-
cle to, consultation. Lastly, the data illustrate that I&C
is viewed by management as a lower strategic organi-
zational priority, and how extending worker voice is
constrained by the importance management place on
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduc-
tion in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
©  The Authors. British Journal of Industrial Relations published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Br J Ind Relat. ;–. 1
maintaining their presumed prerogative of control.
Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
While there is extensive research on a range of direct and indirect employee voice mechanisms,
there is very little analysis of the processes that influence specifically ‘managerial’ approaches
to handling workplace Information and Consultation (I&C) (Butler et al., ). This is surpris-
ing given the longevity of academic literature on representative participation and employee voice
(Dundon et al., ; Gomez et al., ; Marchington, ). Several studies have assessed the
potential utility of I&C for employees (e.g. Gomez et al., ;Halletal.,; Holland et al.,
; Kougiannou et al., ; Kougiannou et al., ; Koukiadaki, ). These studies have
found that employees (and unions) can impact joint decision-making outcomes.
However, there is little explanation of how management representatives within I&C fora influ-
ence the employee voice processes. Managerial prerogative, defined as ‘a presumed right of man-
agers to lay claim to decisions on issues they usually reserve for itself’, often viewed in relation to
property rights (Storey, , pp. , ), has been recognized in industrial relations literatures
(Flanders, ; McKinlay & Zeitlin, ;Pooleetal.,;Storey,) but receives scant atten-
tion within voice and trust research. In addressing this gap, our research tackles two questions
that allow us to consider directly managerial attitudes towards employee representatives inside
I&C fora, and how such perceptions intersect with the broader control function of the manage-
rial prerogative: () what factors may lead managers to adopt an approach to I&C with a more
consultative rather than informative-only character; and () what are the underlying factors that
either hinder or enhance management decisions to involve (or exclude) employee representatives
in decision-making processes? Answers to these questions can provide a greater understanding
of how managerial attitudes impact approaches to consult employees over decisions, specifically
when there exist regulations designed to enhance employee I&C. These issues can be particularly
salient in non-union employee representative (NER) fora given such bodies tend to be employer-
led, with limited joint decision making in the workplace (Dobbins & Dundon, ), relative to
unionized voice arrangements.
Drawing on managerial attitudes to I&C in two organizations, we contribute to the literature
on representative voice in three ways. First, we address the need for a greater degree of empirical
attention concerning managerially focused data (Butler et al., ), and for research that explores
relationship dynamics and lived experiences to provide a better understanding of how tensions
between different groups can be managed (Collings et al., ). Thus, we offer new insights about
the application of the managerial prerogative and its interplay with trust, specifically in relation
to managerial perceptions of the role of employee representatives within I&C fora. Second, we
identify the assessment of risk involved in decision making as a contributing factor behind man-
agement’s approach to consultation, and their (un)willingness to give up control of I&C and share
information with employee representatives. To this end, we unpick what managers mean by con-
sultation which shapes their attitude towards worker representatives. Third, we offer a nuanced
understanding of the direct and indirect relationships between management and employee rep-
resentatives, showing the important role of managerial prerogative and perceptions of trust in
promoting or inhibiting employee I&C.
I  M 3
The remainder of the article is structured as follows. We first discuss the literature on man-
agerial attitudes towards worker voice and the role of trust within I&C fora. We then report the
methodology employed and the research setting, before presenting our findings. Finally, the impli-
cations for theory and I&C practice are discussed.
Managerial attitudes are often seen as key to the existence of highly developed employee voice
practices (Johnstone & Wilkinson, ; Kougiannou et al., ;Pooleetal.,; Timming,
, ). Marchington et al. () argue that attitudes and behaviours of all I&C participants
are prominent determinants of the consultation process. Further, Broad () highlighted that
consultation requires a high degree of commitment from management for voice arrangements to
be effective. The processes for worker voice may be even more salient in non-unionized firms,
where a unilateral managerial prerogative to decision making is more embedded (see Dundon
et al., ; Gall, ; Roy, ; van den Broek & Dundon, ). It can be argued that manage-
ment’s choice over the type of voice arrangement inside representative structures for I&C is an
important yet neglected field of inquiry.
A related phenomenon concerning management attitudes towards worker representative voice
is the importance of trust-building between the parties (e.g. Kougiannou et al., ; Kougiannou
et al., ; Schulz et al., ; Timming, ). However, underplayed in the trust literature is
the influence of managerial prerogative (control) and managers’ attitudes towards employee rep-
resentatives. Trust is defined as ‘a psychological state that comprises the intention to accept vul-
nerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of another’ (Rousseau
et al., : ). With a focus on vulnerability, this definition highlights the relevance of trust
in complex social contexts that are by their nature shaped by risk and power (Mayer et al., ;
Schoorman et al., ). As Svensson (: ) argues, ‘trust is a resource that makes it possible
to frame risk and engage in interaction with the unknown’. Importantly, the context of I&C for
employees can partially adjust the distribution of power and the control prerogative in the rela-
tionship, through increased information flows, access to confidential and sensitive information,
and potentially rendering decision-making processes alterable (Dietz & Fortin, ). Thus, this
context entails increased vulnerability and risks for all parties.
In our discussion above, trust is a judgement that the trustor makes about the trustee, shaped in
part by power resources and positional authority of one or more of the parties. In contrast, trust-
worthiness is defined as ‘the characteristics and actions of the trustee that will lead that person
to be more or less trusted’ (Mayer et al., : ). That is, included in perceptions of trustwor-
thiness are the characteristics of the trustee (in our case the employee representatives) that shape
the trustor’s (i.e. management representatives) attitudes about the trustee (Druckman et al., ).
Mayer et al. () defined three key characteristics that apply to managements’ judgements of
trustworthiness. Adapting the definition to the I&C context yields: ability – the employee repre-
sentatives’ skills and competencies that will enable them to perform competently within an I&C
context, benevolence – the extent to which the employee representatives are believed to be con-
cerned for management, and integrity – the employee representative’s honesty and commitment
to certain principles acceptable by management.
For management, relaxing managerial prerogative and sharing a degree of control over deci-
sion making requires a level of risk to be taken. Spreitzer and Mishra (, p. ) talk about
management’s paradox of how to ‘give up control without losing control’ – echoing Flanders’
(, p. ) remark that to ‘regain control managers must first learn how to share it’ or, at best,
‘making a show of appearing to share it’ (Ramsay, , p. ). In our case, management assess
the risk involved in deciding whether (and how) to share sensitive information with employee
representatives, and the latter accept or tolerate managerial control as a function of their pre-
sumed prerogative to manage. Additionally, management may interpret risk as the cost side of
a cost–benefit type calculation. That is, if management see the role for I&C primarily in terms
of how it adds business value and whether worker representatives are qualified in such matters
– effectively ignoring their representative capacity – then even with low risk, management have
little incentive to share information and concede control if they do not see likely benefits. Within
this calculation of risk, if the anticipated value level is greater than that of the perceived risk, then
management may be more willing to relax control and engage in more consultative forms of I
& C; that is to say, accept risk-taking as a feature of the managerial prerogative concerning I&C.
In this research, we assess management representatives’ perception of employee representatives’
trustworthiness, consequent willingness to accept vulnerability and assume risk by sharing sen-
sitive information with employee representatives (i.e. engage in trusting actions), and the degree
to which those perceptions influence or alter the managerial (control) prerogative towards more
consultative I&C.
Dietz and Fortin () emphasize that I&C bodies are characterized by highly complex
exchange relationships, arguing that trust can be used to explain the participants’ attitudes. Poten-
tially, the concept of managerial prerogative can provide insights about different managerial
attitudes and their interpretations of trust and trustworthiness towards various employee voice
arrangements. Of further importance is the relationships dynamics among participants within the
I&C fora and how such dynamics impact decisions to share information and collaborate towards
joint decision making (Kougiannou et al., ). We argue, therefore, that to gain a more insightful
and holistic understanding of the relationship dynamics inside I&C fora, and how these may affect
their operation, managerial perceptions of the I&C process, and of the employee representative
roles in particular, need to also be investigated.
This research uses a longitudinal qualitative case-study approach, with the data reported in this
article drawn from the I&C fora of two UK-based organizations over  years; a Housing Asso-
ciation (HA) (the Employee Consultative Committee [ECC]) and a Multi-national Professional
Services firm (PSF) (the National Information and Consultation Forum [NICF]). Our research is
concerned with managerial attitudes to I&C when the latter are required to inform and consult
employees. In the UK, such an obligation remains live and active because of transposed European
Directives for employee I&C, as well as newer voluntary arrangements, such as those contained
in the UK Corporate Governance Code (), promoted as government policy to enhance work-
force engagement with employee directors on boards and other experts to advise management
on employee voice options (see Rees & Briône, ). Careful selection was required to identify
suitable organizations that had implemented and/or adapted I&C arrangements to meet such leg-
islation for I&C. Both organizations do not recognize a union in their workplace and have in place
specific NER committees, introduced initially in response to the European Directive for Employee
I&C. For data triangulation purposes (Creswell & Miller, ), we used several qualitative data
I  M 5
TABLE 1 Data sources and use
Source Type of data Use in the analysis
. NICF agenda items and meeting
minutes (February ’–March ‘)
. ECC agenda items and meeting
minutes (January ’–September
Gather information regarding potential level
of consultation.
Cross-check truthfulness of interview
statements and observation notes.
Interviews First round–Summer 2009
Interviews with all current
management (MR) and employee
reps (ER).
NICF: Four MRs and  ERs.
ECC: Three MRs and seven ERs.
All audio recorded and transcribed for
a total of  pages.
Second round–Autumn 2010
Interviews with all current
management (MR) and employee
reps (ER)
NICF: Four MRs and  ERs
ECC: Three MRs and five ERs
All audio recorded and transcribed for
a total of  pages.
Gather data about delegates relationship
history; delegates’ expectations about the
forums; delegates’ perceptions about the
forums’ processes; the role of trust these
perceptions and relationships.
Gather more detailed data about the
aforementioned themes; examine in more
depth how the relationships between
delegates have developed since the first
Compare and examine changes in
perceptions at the beginning and end of
Gather data on relationship dynamics,
participants’ opinions about their
counterparts and their approach to I&C.
Note 1: All management representatives were senior managers. For NICF, this consisted of
the IR manager, Legal and two senior executive members, one being the Chair. For ECC,
this consisted of the Managing Director (also the Chair of ECC), the HR and the
Operations Manager.
Note 2: Interviews lasted between 45 min and 2 h, with an average duration of 1 h
Five NICF meetings:
August ’09, November ’09, April ’10,
September ’10, March ‘11
Six ECC meetings:
July ’09, December ’09, February ’10,
(x2) (second ad-hoc), April ’10,
September ’10 (ad-hoc)
Gather data regarding attitudes and
behaviours during meetings.
Contextualize first round interview
Triangulate facts.
collection techniques. Table presents details on these sources and how they were used in our
data analysis.
NVivo was used as a tool to code the qualitative data. Open coding was initially used to iden-
tify concepts, moving from in-vivo, which is a simple descriptive phase, to second-order codes
based on thematic analysis (Maanen, ;Strauss&Corbin,). Observation notes, I&C fora
documentation and minutes of meetings were particularly important for informing interviewees’
recollections of events. Interviews complemented observations, by giving a rich insight into how
managers and employee representatives experienced the I&C fora and the meetings and what
issues were discussed.
Data analysis followed an open-ended abductive approach, based on iterative stages of the-
matic coding of our qualitative data in NVivo (Version ). Thematic analysis is a method that is
used to systematically identify, synthesize and organize data, which offers insight into patterns
of themes consistent with the framing of managerial prerogative, control, voice and trust across
our given data set (Braun & Clarke, ). To develop the themes for this project, an abductive
approach was used. This approach enables the researcher to engage in a back-and-forth move-
ment between theory and data in a bid to develop or modify existing theory (Awuzie & McDer-
mott, ). Abduction allows for a tight but evolving framework (Dubois & Gadde, ), where
the researcher can move between theory and participants’ accounts, each informing the other
in order to answer the project’s research questions (Cunliffe, ). For control and managerial
prerogative, codes for ‘willingness to delegate authority’ and ‘share decisions’ were used to cap-
ture managerial prerogative (Storey, ). With regard to trust, three elements of trustworthiness
(e.g. searching for responses and signals of ability,benevolence,integrity)wereusedfromMayer
et al. (). An extra code, ‘risk taking’, was added to identify any such activities as this trusting
action is an important outcome of the trust process with implications for I&C. Throughout the
process, triangulation with other sources and comparisons of interviewees’ accounts helped us
refine and strengthen our interpretations.
We find that management are influenced by past experiences they might have had with employee
representatives. Moreover, what they mean by trustworthiness is related to a larger extent with
whether employee representatives have the skills and ability to add value to the organization,
and less so to a general sense of integrity, as indicated in the three-characteristics of trustwor-
thiness described earlier (e.g. to give voice as a way to express employee concerns and views to
management). When looking at management attitudes and approaches to I&C, the degree of risk
that management is willing to take, in terms of sharing information and delegating control by
involving employees in decisions (Whitener et al., ), is influential. Lastly, a key factor was the
influence exercised by the I&C Chair, typically a senior manager appointed (not elected) to the
role. Specifically, the Chair’s approach to, and level of support for the I&C forum, are influenced
by their perceptions towards employee representatives not only with regard to specific individ-
uals, but moreover in response to them as a coherent group capable of exercising a degree of
competency-based trustworthiness when questioning management authority to make unilateral
decisions. In terms of trust, additional factors that influenced management approach to consul-
tation were the degree of ‘risk taking’ managers felt was acceptable within the I&C forum, along
with the extent to which they were willing to share and delegate control (Whitener et al., ).
The above summary of findings is broken down further and detailed in what follows.
4.1 The structure and purpose of NER fora
The ECC, created in , is the formal consultation mechanism between employees and man-
agement in HA. Specifically, it was formed to be ‘a forum of partnership working and information
sharing, through which matters affecting HA staff can be discussed and jointly resolved’ (ECC Terms
of Reference document). The remit of the committee included (a) the development of HR practices
and procedures, (b) changes to organizational structures, roles or working practices where these
relate to the majority of staff, (c) consultation on pay and terms and conditions of employment,
(d) other changes, developments or matters of policy where these affect the majority of staff and
(e) health and safety (ECC Terms of Reference).
I  M 7
The NICF, created in  and re-vamped in , was designed to strengthen the I&C process
between the company and its employees at a national and strategic level. PSF established the NICF
to improve the mutual understanding of the company’s business, its performance and
the challenges and opportunities that face the business in the future, and to promote
communication, co-operation and employee participation at all levels of the work-
force, in the interests of both the company and its employees. (NICF constitution)
The NICF would (a) give information about strategic decisions and issues of importance to
staff, (b) promote an exchange of views between management and staff about those issues, (c) test
ideas and approaches with staff and (d) give staff an opportunity to influence the implementation
of decisions, which will impact on all company employees (NICF constitution).
These documents, prepared by the companies’ respective Human Resources (HR) departments,
show evidence, at least on paper, of management support towards a consultative approach for ECC
and the NICF. Both companies are managed by a Senior Management Team (SMT): the National
Leadership Team (NLT) runs the UK&I division of PSF and the Executive Management Team
(EMT) runs HA. The SMTs do not have direct interactions with the I&C fora, apart from the PSF
Managing Director’s briefing session at the beginning of each NICF meeting, and the I&C Chairs
being also SMT members.
4.2 Inside the meetings: relationship dynamics and prerogatives
The data presented in this section are from observation notes, interviews and meetings’ minutes.
.. NICF
The NICF has day-long meetings, starting at  am and finishing at  pm that are attended by the
employee representatives, the Chair, the IR Manager, her deputy and a manager from the Legal
Department. Apart from the regular participants, managers with specialized knowledge on each
item in the agenda attend and give a presentation of the issue. Participants can ask questions and
debate the issue during or after the presentation. The agenda, which is set by management, is sent
to all participants a week before the meeting and the day of the meeting a booklet is distributed
to all containing a copy of the constitution, code of conduct, previous meeting’s minutes and the
list of the agenda items and presentation material. Additionally, employee representatives have
the chance to have an hour-long pre-meeting among themselves from  am till  am. This gives
them the opportunity to discuss the agenda items and decide on their approach. An employee
representative on a rotating basis chairs the pre-meetings. Table presents the agenda items for
all observed meetings.
According to the forum’s constitution, the NICF can provide comments on the plans or pro-
posals submitted to it by the company at a forum meeting and may request a meeting with com-
pany management representatives to discuss these. The decision as to whether to carry out a
particular course of action rests solely with the company. Equally, the level of consultation pro-
vided was up to management control and most agenda items were in fact ‘information-only’ on
decisions already made. There was consultation about redundancy (a legal obligation) and pater-
nity leave, but there was no consultation about the desk-booking scheme, moving out of offices,
TABLE 2 NICF observed meetings – agenda items
Meeting Items I C
Voluntary redundancy reasons analysis
Constitutional amendments √ √
Business update
NICF’s communications √ √
Human capital and diversity
Restructuring √ √
Alternatives to redundancy √ √
Compensation communications
Performance management
Link between NICF and NLT √ √
Business update
Celebrating performance
Performance management
Desk booking/discretionary day
Update on restructuring
Equality bill
Paternity policy √√
NICF’s communications update
Restructuring initiatives update
HR transformation programme
Workspace initiative
Performance management/reward strategy
NICF’s communications √ √
PSF on women
Discretionary day
Business update
Performance management and reward
Business update
Paternity legislation √√
Volunteering policy
Health and safety policy
Restructuring initiatives
Discretionary day
NICF’s communications
Abbreviations: C, consultation; I, information.
Source: Meeting minutes.
performance management and the discretionary holiday. It seems that management ‘pick’ items
for consultation based on risk and discomfort sensitivities: first, items may be less consultative
when considered to be commercially sensitive or controversial (e.g. pay determination, cost-
cutting and redundancy), and second, management may regard a risk in terms of employees
questioning their managerial prerogative and thus their authority (e.g. discretionary day and
I  M 9
performance management criteria). These had a consequential effect on the impressions of
employee representatives, who felt the company had no real desire to engage employees through
the NICF in a more consultative way.
The ‘performance management’ item and management’s response to employee representatives
created friction in all meetings. For example, in ‘observed meeting ’ (Table ), one of the employee
representatives (ER), referring to the ‘Performance Management’ item, mentioned that so far
consultation was happening ‘post decision making’ with a view on how to implement the decisions.
However, he continued, it is the employee representatives’ wish to ‘take it to the next level and
consult before decisions are made. This debate started when employee representatives were asked
for their opinions regarding performance management. Employee representatives challenged the
process, saying that it is not clear to the workforce how certain aspects of it worked, and asked
for more involvement in the future when introducing changes to the scheme. This involvement
never came.
Lack of genuine consultation was an important recurring theme for employee representatives
during their pre-meetings as well. A very animated conversation about consultation took place
between the employee representatives at their pre-meeting for ‘observed meeting ’. One of the
employee representatives (ER) inquired about the value the forum is adding and the level of
consultation. In response, ER commented that ‘leadership are not comfortable with us yet’,while
ER questioned ‘are we a communication forum or a consultation forum?’, and others added that
management do not actively support option-based consultation,suggesting they ‘are not made
aware of the options’ before decision making (ER).
Furthermore, the data show multiple interpretations associated with the ‘value’ of consultation.
For example, ER added that employee representatives ‘can only add more value the earlier they
[e.g. management] come to us’, and ER suggested that management ‘should focus on things where
we can add value’, but commenting that adding value meant different things to different actors.
Employee representatives considered value to mean expressing concerns and ideally influencing
decisions on issues where staff had strong views, whereas for managers, it meant adding to the
bottom line. The employee representatives believe that a contributing factor is the secretive cul-
ture of the company that significantly effects the NICF, with ER saying that ‘things are being
planned, but we don’t find out about them. It is about respect’. Employee representatives concluded
by saying there have been several issues that they were informed about at the last minute, rather
than their views sought and considered at the forum.
In the meeting that followed, when the Chair asked the representatives how they felt ‘about
things, life, PSF, the economy’ and if they were happy with how things in the forum were going,
ER replied saying that ‘we feel we’re going back to the communication forum rather than con-
sultation: we should be involved earlier’. Other employee representatives felt that they were not
always being treated as a recognized consultative body, pointing out that they had not been con-
sulted over key issues, such as the performance management and the removal of the discretionary
day. They also suggested that one way to be involved earlier in the decision-making process is
to make the relevant team responsible for the decision, and that the NICF should be involved
and feed in the process’. The Chair responded defensively, saying that the company is sharing
highly confidential information with the NICF – referring to the ‘Business Update’ standing item
– and suggested that the reward options in the future be discussed as a consultation topic. How-
ever, by the time of the next meeting, changes were already implemented without the NICF’s
Option-based consultation was presented to employee representatives during their I&C training, before starting their
TABLE 3 ECC observed meetings – agenda items
Meeting Items I C
Observed meeting
Terms of reference √ √
Healthy living initiatives
Suggestion box
Role of the employee consultative committee √ √
Observed meeting
Employee suggestion box responses √√
GPS tracking system to vehicle fleet √√
Observed meeting
HR – ECC newsletter/people matters newsletter √ √
Employee suggestion box responses √ √
Call centre √ √
Cultural change
Replacement ideas for car parking permits
Observed meeting
Pay award
Rebranding of employee recognition scheme
Observed meeting
Changes to the disciplinary and flexi-time policies √ √
Part-day sickness absence √ √
Observed meeting
Re-structure to property and development services
Abbreviations: AH, ad hoc; C, consultation; I, information.
Source: Meeting minutes.
involvement and the item was once again ‘information only’ as management re-asserted preroga-
tive. By then, employee representatives seemed demoralized and their contribution to this discus-
sion was limited to giving feedback on how the changes were communicated to the workforce.
.. ECC
A similar structure consists of the ECC. The meetings are shorter, usually -h long and are
attended by the employee representatives, the Chair, his Personal Assistant who is responsible
for taking the minutes, the HR Manager and the Operations Manager. Here too managers with
specialized knowledge on specific agenda items attend and give a presentation of the issue. The
agenda material, which is solely set by management, is sent to all participants a week before the
meeting except for ‘ad-hoc’ meetings when the material is given as soon as it is available, often
the afternoon before the meeting or at the meeting. HA does not offer the opportunity for a pre-
meeting to employee representatives. Table presents the agenda items during fieldwork.
Similar to the NICF, most agenda items were ‘information-only’ on decisions already made
(based on observation data). Items for consultation with a more strategic nature were the ECC’s
Terms of Reference, a discussion on the ECC’s role within the company (observed meeting ),
changes to disciplinary and flexi-time policies and part-day sickness absence (observed meeting
). Management’s ‘cherry-picking’ of items for consultation is observed here too, with important
issues, such as annual pay and restructuring, excluded from the forum agenda. As with the NICF,
this gave the impression to employee representatives that the company had no real desire to try
I  M 11
and make the ECC work as a consultative body. There were occasions that employees tried to
add an item to the agenda, only to be rejected by the ECC Chair. For example, when ER asked
to include an item regarding the company’s intranet and wrote a report summarizing the prob-
lems, the Chair decided the issue was inappropriate for the forum and refused to have any further
discussion. The response by the Chair had a negative impact on how employee representatives
perceived the role of the trustor in this context (e.g. the Chair of the ECC):
‘I don’t think he actually wants to know what the employees have to say. I really don’t.
I think it is his opinion that counts, he will tell you what he wants to tell you and the
employees are just there to listen’. (ER)
During interviews, the HR manager commented on the lack of clarity around issues that can
be brought to the ECC, which further impacted trust among employee representatives:
‘Well how do we do things if we’ve brought it to the ECC several times and nothing has
moved forward?... the Chair was obviously bringing the message from EMT, which
was “this is not the way that we do things...but how do we do things then? So, I
think we’re in this kind of grey area at the moment, where there is this reticence to
put things forward that could be a bit controversial because it’s clear to us that we
don’t do it in that way’.
Observed interactions during ‘Meeting ’ illustrate how the role of the Chair can be important
in shaping attitudes towards consultation. Management representatives were sitting on one side
of a large square-shaped table, whispering to each other. Employee representatives were on the
opposite side of the table, sitting silently and waiting for the Chair to start the meeting. As soon as
everyone was in the room, the Chair (MR) commenced the meeting, starting immediately with
the items on the agenda. There was a small presentation of each agenda item, then the Chair would
ask if there were any questions or comments. Most of the time there were none. An exception
that did stir some debate was about the role of the ECC (Table – observed meeting ). MR
asked the representatives the following questions: ‘do you think it is lip service? Is it meaningful?
Are we actually addressing issues or is it just informational?’. ER expressed a concern that they
could not influence issues and MR commented that it is not clear if the ECC is intended to be
just informational or something more and proceeded to explain that issues before the ECC are
presented after management have made a decision. MR responded by suggesting the views of
the ECC were taken into consideration before a final decision was made, at least with regard to
the latest pay rise issue. MR further added that ‘nevertheless, there needs to be more clarity on
whether it is information or not’. ER pointed out that one example is not enough and that ‘more
issues need to come to us beforehand’, while ER requested more time for discussion over agenda
items, with MR arguing ‘we need to clarify that it is OK to raise issues, it is OK to debate. And we
need to be clear about the role of the reps and the ECC’. However, during the following year, no
action was taken to address these and other issues that had been raised, with fewer items brought
to the committee. As a result, meetings were being cancelled because of lack of agenda items,
and there was no consultation about major decisions that were made by the company (e.g. pay
reviews and restructuring). In short, without management being prepared to relinquish control,
the consultation process was hollow.
4.3 Managerial prerogative: a narrowing of information-sharing
During interviews, several of the above issues were brought up, and in response, management
representatives suggested that a key concern was being able to trust employee representatives,
mostly in terms of confidentiality and their business-focused competencies.
I’d trust them to stick to their role and the elements of the role about not disclosing
things, which are confidential. I’ve got to assume they can do that otherwise the meet-
ing is dead. Then I think another level of trust is actually, could you trust someone
to do something? They say they’re going to do something, but will they actually get it
done? (MR)
A decision to consult with employee representatives entails a willingness to share corporate
information – and to an extent some control, which is a mandated condition of the regulations
which motivated the creation of these I&C fora. The extent of risk-taking can fall disproportion-
ately on different managers: those who are management representatives attending the forum may
have narrow risk specific to their department or function, whereas SMTs and I&C Chairs can
be unwilling to share higher order or corporate strategic plans with shop-floor employees, all of
which can affect trust relations in the fora. For example, the NICF’s Chair, interpreting employee
representatives’ roles from a calculative business value perspective, expresses doubt about the
employees’ ability (i.e. trustworthiness characteristic) to contribute to business decisions:
What am I going to hear from them that I don’t already have a strong sense of?
There’re few examples I can think of where talking to the forum about a change,
are they really going to surprise me?
This attitude is also reflected in the NICF Chair’s comments about the approach the NLT adopts
with regard to the forum:
I suspect if I was to go and talk to our UK&I leadership team about NICF I’d probably
get quite a wide range of views and probably no one would say ‘I would automatically
choose to go and talk to that group and consult with them on anything which could
potentially impact a number of our employees’.
The PSF IR manager elaborated further about NLT’s risk-taking approach when it comes to
consulting with NICF representatives. Interpreting the pay freeze decision as an issue that could
provoke confrontation, the NLT were unwilling to relax managerial prerogative and accept the
vulnerability that a confrontational situation might create, and share control (Rousseau et al.,
;Whiteneretal.,), thus engaging in a trusting action:
They’re really a bit schizophrenic about it sometimes when it steps on their secrecy
toes and their right to do what they think management can do, then they get a little
anxious and grumpy. The latest was in early August when I was insisting that some
issues around the pay freeze needed to go to the forum and I was told in an email
from the HR director, of all people, that the pay freeze wasn’t controversial, and no
confrontation is necessary. (MR)
I  M 13
The above responses could be interpreted as a managerially constructed blame narrative around
a lack of trustworthiness as an excuse for their own unwillingness to relax their managerial pre-
4.4 Managerial perspectives: reluctance, (mis)trust and inability to
voice opinions
During the interviews, all management representatives from the ECC and two from the NICF, con-
tinuing the lack of employee trustworthiness blame narrative, identified reluctance and hesitation
from employee representatives to speak their minds about challenging issues. Management mem-
bers of I&C fora tended to evaluate employee representatives not so much as agents representing
employee interests that may diverge from those of management, but on whether employee rep-
resentatives were organizational team players committed to corporate goals. For example, MR
felt that the reason why some employee representatives were reluctant to speak-up was due to
individual apathy, or that some employee representatives were unwilling to fully support and par-
ticipate in how management viewed the I&C forum. This is interpreted, by management, as lack
of caring about the organization (i.e. benevolence as a trustworthiness characteristic): ‘We’ve got
some employee reps that I don’t think ever wanted to be on the team’ (MR).
Significantly, management representatives on the I&C fora did not see that information and
consultation can be a power-centric dynamic between employer and employees. In the case of the
ECC specifically, all management representatives, with the exception of the HR manager, articu-
lated a narrative that sought to undermine employee representatives’ presumed skill and compe-
tency (e.g. these being the skills deemed important by managers themselves). It is thus arguable
that narratives of skill, as expressed by some leading management representatives, are used to
justify their limited trust in employee representatives and reinforce the broader power-centric
functions of a managerial prerogative that acts as a counterbalance to employees’ incompetency.
For example, MR commented: ‘They don’t have the right skills to represent their groups’. Th e EC C
Chair also remarked: ‘I’m not sure they have enough experience to maybe question some of the wider
impact decisions’. MR did note that employee representatives might not speak their minds due
to fear or backlash from management:
I think there’s also an issue that they could be singled out by management as being
troublemakers and so there’s an element of fear in terms of actually saying something.
MR believes this to be due to past incidents where employee representatives did speak out and
challenged issues and management’s behaviour became defensive of their past actions:
I think there’s still some history that’s still being brought forward where there have
been occasions where people have spoken out and it hasn’t been received well and I
think that’s made some members who would normally speak out, made them reluc-
Thus, at times a maintaining managerial prerogative and control explained behaviours towards
employee representatives, as much as trust theory. For example, respondentsexplained that work-
force representatives would ‘stick their heads out’, only if they trusted that management would
not ‘shoot it off’ (ER). A vicious circle is created in this way, especially within the ECC. On one
hand, management say they do not trust, and do not see any value in consulting with employee
representatives because of their seemingly apathetic behaviour (benevolence) and/or lack of nec-
essary skills (ability) to contribute to the business. On the other hand, employee representatives
are not willing to be more active and challenge management for fear of risking their jobs or careers
because, ultimately, management exercise greater control over them.
4.5 Consultation – unwillingness to relax managerial prerogative
The SMTs’ sustained reluctance to properly consult with their I&C fora, evidenced by observable
lack of consultation agenda items at I&C meetings (Tables and ), is indicative of an unwilling-
ness to accept vulnerability, relinquish some control and thus engage in trusting actions (Rousseau
et al., ;Whiteneretal.,). One can observe that most items that came to the meetings for
consultation are housekeeping rather than strategic issues, in direct contradiction to the ECC
Terms of Reference and NICF constitution.
The apparent lack of consultation in both fora appeared to have a reciprocal impact on
employees’ trust in management. The employee representatives commented: ‘They
dont want us tohaveany input...Werenot theretoinfluence decisions (ER).
The extent to which managers relax managerial prerogative and include employees in decision
making can influence the development of trust, from one based on calculative decisions, to one
that is built on a reciprocal relationship. The lack of consultation that is observed in the ECC and
NICF has a negative impact on employee representatives’ trust in management. The IR and HR
managers explained that the I&C fora do not add value because of lack of consultation per se, but
rather because of diminished trust. For example, in the ECC, according to both MR and MR,
a lack of consultation is mainly because of EMT’s concerns that highly confidential information
will be leaked – a sign of mistrust: ‘If management had trust in the ECC they wouldn’t have left it
till the last minute to announce the restructure’ (MR). Likewise, the HR manager (MR) admitted
the difficulty of convincing EMT to consult before a decision is made, indicating how unwilling
they are to take a risk and share control (Whitener et al., ):
I think it would be a challenge to get them to agree to that level of consultation. To
get them to accept ECC in that role, in that way, I think that would be a challenge.
In sum, insistence on maintaining managerial prerogatives creates barriers to consultation and
consequently to the development of reciprocal trust within I&C. The lack of consultation is an
outcome of managerial attitudes viewing decision-making prerogatives as the remit of the SMTs
and creating a blame narrative around lack of trust to justify them. Specifically, concerns that
highly confidential information might be leaked were an expression of perceived low integrity,
despite no evidence or examples of such actions by employees to support this claim (at least during
fieldwork). The SMTs saw little value in consultation and their actions made this self-fulfilling.
I  M 15
4.6 Championing I&C? The role of the Chair
A further finding is the important role of the Chairperson’s attitudes towards the I&C fora. Since
the Chair is also a member of the SMT, the incumbent can either ‘champion’ the forum, be
neutral to the process of I&C or a negative messenger to the SMT and even a saboteur. The
Chairs’ approach appeared to be influenced by their perceptions of employee representatives
trustworthiness, defined less in terms of perceived risk and more in relation to a perception of
limited benefits, such as adding value to the business. Thus, if management see I&C primarily in
terms of business value, and perceive the representatives as less qualified to add business value,
then even with low risk, management have little incentive to engage in I&C, as they do not per-
ceive likely benefits from the intended representative function of voice systems.
For the NICF, there was a change in the Chairperson within the first  months of operation.
During fieldwork, the first Chair (C) was already gone, and the observed meetings were chaired
by C’s replacement (MR). Both Chairs were also members of the NLT. From the interviews,
employee representatives expressed concern about C and mixed feelings about MR. Seven out
of  employee representatives referred to complaints about C’s ‘abrupt’ behaviour: that he ‘did
not show much interest in the forum’ and concerns about him ‘not being supportive of NICF from the
beginning. MR identified clarity of role as the major problem of the forum, but, at the same time,
in both rounds of interviews, he expressed doubts about the employee representatives’ ability to
add value to the business’, without appreciating that employee members of the forum are there to
represent a workforce constituency:
There is a slightly weird dynamic where on the one hand they scream to be consulted
on, and I give them half an opportunity and actually they’re just not involved. If it
was me, and I was trying very hard to build credibility and momentum, I’d seize any
opportunity and then hopefully demonstrate why it’s such a great thing to do, build
positive presence at involving the forum. When you look at the meeting actions it’s
all one way, it’s never the employee representatives going back to the people they
represent and ask them for their opinion on X. % plus of the actions tend to go to
the IR manager, HR or me, it’s very rarely the employee representatives that get them
Additionally, during fieldwork, there were awkward interactions between MR and several
employee representatives surrounding a revised desk-booking policy, with misunderstandings
between the parties about what employee representatives should share with their constituents.
For MR, this event of seemingly leaked information created a low trust disposition, impacting
negatively on his perceptions of the employee representatives’ integrity, and making him quite
cautious towards the forum:
I’m now going to be more cautious because, even something as simple as that, they
kind of failed at the first hurdle to keep my trust.
Another indication of MR’s low trust towards the employee representatives is the fact that he
does not believe the views that they express in the meetings are the views of their constituents,
and not exclusively their own. This implies MR’s low trust in their motives, general integrity and
So there is a part of me that thinks, actually, are these really, they are elected reps, but
how much do they really represent the people, and how much are they expressing
their own view?
From the employee representatives’ side, their first impressions of MR were positive in most
of them (n=), especially in terms of integrity and benevolence:
I’m hearing all the right things from him in terms of him wanting to make sure that
we as a forum are visible and being valuable but also being seen valuable. (ER)
Additionally, half of the employee representatives referred to the open and honest behaviour
of MR. However, after MR announced to the UK workforce the scraping of a discretionary hol-
iday, without prior consultation or even communication with the NICF (see Table , observed
meetings –), a shift in the employee representatives’ beliefs was observable, highlighting the
volatile and highly reciprocal nature of trust. Employees’ main concern in the interviews was
that they were not consulted before the decision was made, that MR ‘went behind their back and
completely disregarded the forum’ (ER) and their involvement was confined to providing feed-
back on the possible reaction of the workforce to the decisions, and how to better communicate
these decisions to the workforce. They had turned into a ‘sounding board’ for management. From
that point onwards, all employee representatives reported low levels of trust in management. The
vicious circle of (mis)trust had started.
Investigating the potential factors behind managers’ attitudes towards employee representatives
within I&C fora has received scant attention in the extant industrial relations literature. Simi-
larly, literature on trust, especially from an organizational behaviour perspective, tends to neglect
underlying managerial prerogatives of power and unilateral control dynamics. These shortcom-
ings are problematic to our overall understanding of representative voice and factors that influ-
ence the sustainability of such mechanisms, especially when there are regulations that require
corporations to promote effective I&C arrangements. This article investigated management’s
approach towards I&C arrangements and their attitudes towards employee representatives inside
two non-union employee voice fora, set-up (or adapted) because of legal rules for better employee
The findings offer new insights to knowledge, theory and practice. First, the theorization of
risk-taking decisions about sharing information and consulting with employee representatives
cannot be dislocated from managements’ position of control. The finding that some managerial
representatives appeared to be cautious about sharing certain information with employee repre-
sentatives can suggest that attitudes towards risk shape I&C outcomes, more so than trust itself.
For example, a prevailing managerial prerogative meant there was an underlying power dynamic
of control, which at times management would substitute as trust or risk appropriation. The result
had the effect of diminishing or weakening the role of employee voices inside the I&C fora as
confirmation of managerial prerogative. Consequently, SMTs were likely to decide against, or for,
consulting on an issue and a lot depended on managerial views about the role of employee repre-
sentatives, the nature of the I&C process itself and the presumed risks of sharing information. It
was apparent from our data that what management mean by trustworthiness of representatives
I  M 17
was not always confidentiality per se, nor the managerial allegation that employee representa-
tives had a skills and/or competency deficient. There was at times a narrative of trust to buttress a
managerial prerogative of control over the sharing of organizational and business decision mak-
ing, which had little focus on workforce interests.
The evidence speaks to a unitary approach to NER and I&C where employee voice is seen
largely as a mechanism to improve corporate functioning and support managerial objectives
(e.g. Morrison, :). Our data add to this discussion and argue such an approach neglects
employees as legitimate agents who also interact to affect managerial prerogative to some extent
(Barry & Wilkinson, ; Godard, ; Kaufman, ). In this regard, a managerial prerogative
views tension or disagreement not as pluralist compromise and accommodation between compet-
ing interests of different industrial relations actors, but as a narrative around employee incompe-
tence and managements’ lack of trust in employee representatives. Moreover, it is management
actions that engender mistrust, by not allowing the I&C fora to discuss contentious issues, which
in turn undermines the representatives’ faith in the forum’s credibility.
Findings also reveal that the relationships between SMTs, the Chair and employee represen-
tatives are highly segmented, with parties constantly monitoring their respective vulnerabilities
of self and other (Rousseau et al., ). These raise several issues for industrial relations more
broadly. Significantly, these segmented relationships show variable and ultimately volatile levels
of trust between the parties, depending on the attitudes of senior managers towards I&C. Evi-
dently, management were prepared to consult on ‘housekeeping’ issues but were less willing to
discuss strategic matters which they thought might be confrontational vis-à-vis employment con-
ditions, such as pay and performance management calculations. Arguably, the presumption of
authority and the exercise of control underpinned the articulation of a pseudo-rational choice cal-
culation of managements’ interpretation of the employee representatives’ capacity to add business
value, or whether employee representatives were corporate team players. As a result, management
were either unable or unwilling to recognize both the actual constituency that employee repre-
sentatives were elected to serve, or that the regulatory objectives were designed to enhance better
workforce inclusion through voice, rather than as rules for exclusive commercial gain. Addition-
ally, it has been argued that sustainability of an I&C forum may be dependent on management’s
willingness to proactively use I&C fora for information and consultation on a wider rather than
narrow range of issues (Hall et al., ; Kougiannou et al., ; Koukiadaki, ). Our findings
add to these debates by signalling the relatively low strategic priority placed by senior manage-
ment on employee I&C across both cases, even when the committees were initiated in response
to legislation for I&C rights and workforce inclusion (e.g. the EU I&C Directive and subsequent
ICE Regulations). Furthermore, the data point to managements’ attitudes towards employee rep-
resentatives, having a demonstrable influence on managements’ (un)willingness to share control
(prerogative) to involve workers in strategic decision making.
Finally, our two cases demonstrate the power of managerial prerogative in industrial relations
about the role of the Chair in affecting representative voice. A Chair that proactively supports the
I&C would be able to argue for the I&C’s involvement in decision making where SMTs might be
cautious about extending voice. However, such supportive behaviour from the Chair would be
possible if the relationship with employee representatives was a trusting one. The relationship
between the Chair and employee representatives is a dynamic and fluid one that can evolve to
enhance or break down voice. If the Chair is not trusted that could lead to a tense relationship that
hinders employee representatives from expressing their genuine views openly and honestly. This
can become an obstacle to employees demonstrating their trustworthiness to management, which
is essential for trust development between the two parties. These interpretations of trust gravitate
around control, the way prerogative is enacted and how the attitudes of managers towards worker
representatives are dynamic and can evolve over time, space and issues.
This study makes three distinctive contributions. First, it builds new insights on the role of man-
agement inside I&C fora at workplace level; in particular, management attitudes and perceptions
towards employee representatives in the operation of I&C. We found management primarily saw
consultation as being about how the process adds value to the business, not about representing
differing employee interests or promoting better workforce inclusion. Second, it adds to existing
I&C literature by highlighting specifically the dynamic relationships between actors inside the
I&C body, the type of consultation issues and the development or collapse of the voice arrange-
ment. Third, the data provide answers to questions posited in the literature about factors influ-
encing management decisions to consult or not, and how far management adapt to the regula-
tory contexts for employee voice. Overall, while trust can be seen to be important, it seems that
management’s trusting attitudes are not necessarily sufficient to ensure genuine voice. In other
words, managers can trust employee representatives as agents of the workforce, yet that on its
own might not encourage joint decision making or the sharing of authority over decisions that
management typically reserve for itself. Thus, trust can exist; however, consultation may be weak
or partial because of management’s desire to maintain control. Furthermore, while trust emerged
as a narrative in management rationale for their views on employee representatives, it was also
conditioned on a presumed value-added function for the business, not employee interests. The
contribution of seeing I&C in this way shows how managers bypass or weaken the representa-
tive role for voice, and even when there was low risk of having to concede control, management
were not motivated to consult as they saw limited benefit. These managerial attitudes had a conse-
quential effect on the impressions of employee representatives, who felt the companies had no real
desire to engage employees through I&C in a more consultative way. A related academic implica-
tion is that scholars should not uncritically accept managerial pronouncements about trust and
especially their reasons for allegedly not trusting worker representatives.
There are several practical implications that can be considered. First, the regulatory environ-
ment for employee voice continues apace with new and emerging demands on managers, trade
unions and employee representatives. For example, the effects of EU rules in a post-Brexit indus-
trial landscape need to be evaluated at both macro (policy) and workplace (enactment) levels.
In addition, across continental Europe, new proposed regulatory Directives for extended collec-
tive bargaining and minimum wage protections are being considered, which means avenues for
employee voice and social dialogue remain high on the policy and practitioner agenda (Konle-
Seidlpe, ). Furthermore, in the UK, a new Corporate Governance Code from , in response
to Brexit challenges, specifically promotes the idea of enhanced voice with worker representatives
on management boards and I&C fora (see Rees & Briône, ). Second are practical issues of how
managers adapt and implement I&C arrangements. For example, managers can set commonly
agreed expectations about the role and purpose of consultation, and consistently stick to it. These
can help eliminate factors that hinder managerial decisions to take risks, such as consulting with
the I&C forum before a decision is reached, at a stage where information is still highly confiden-
tial. This could be done with a jointly agreed I&C constitution, where the role, purpose and depth
of consultation are detailed. Practitioners can also minimize doubt about employee representa-
tive competency by organizing regular I&C-specific training. Such training should be designed
I  M 19
for both management and employee representatives, include trade unions as appropriate and try
to make sure that expectations are aligned towards building stronger trust relationships between
the parties.
The data in this article are drawn from the PhD thesis of the first author. The work presented in
this paper owes a debt of gratitude to Tom Redman and Graham Dietz, for their guidance and
support during early stages of this research. We will miss our lively, enjoyable and always infor-
mative discussions with Tom and Graham on the importance of research for the development
and improvement of working life. Most of all, we miss their friendship. We would also like to
thank and acknowledge the expertise of our reviewers and the editor. Their insight and detailed
guidance were invaluable to the paper’s final composition.
The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding
author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.
Nadia K. Kougiannou---
Adrian Wilkinson---
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How to cite this article: Kougiannou, N.K., Wilkinson, A. & Dundon, T. () Inside
the meetings: The role of managerial attitudes in approaches to information and
consultation for employees. British Journal of Industrial Relations,../bjir.
... However, Hodgkinson (2018) opines that a sense of managerial prerogative in making decisions may be seen in efforts by management to avoid involving unions and employees when it comes to crucial decisions. Kougiannou et al. (2021) echo similar views when they argue that management's perception of risk about sharing and discussing information with employees and employee representatives influences their decision whether to involve employees or their unions in decision making processes in organizations. In the case of a pandemic and its devastating effects, like that involving COVID-19, management may see it un-worthwhile, risk and time consuming to involve employees and may proceed to make unilateral decisions ...
... In such a situation, management could have been fully aware that employees were unlikely to leave the organization and they were also highly likely to comply with the directive to get vaccinated. Second, management, In line with the argument by Kougiannou et al. (2021) who indicated that there are moments when management should make quick decisions. Health related aspects such as those relating to COVID-19 require quick decisions which may render major employee consultations time consuming. ...
... On the other hand, management might have just felt that it is their right and prerogative to make important decisions on behalf of their employees (Hodgkinson, 2018;Kougiannou et al., 2021). This is against the contemporary spirit of employee engagement and has serious reparations (García et al., 2018;Bratton et al., 2021). ...
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High levels of economic inequality are widely viewed as a key challenge facing both advanced industrial and developing economies. Country-level studies have consistently shown a negative link between income inequality and trust in others. This is typically attributed to greater social distance within unequal societies. Do we observe similar relationships within organisations? This is an important question because employee trust is associated with important outcomes for workers and organisations. We answer it by investigating the relationship between pay inequality and employee trust in managers at the workplace level using large-scale nationally representative matched employer-employee data from Britain. The paper uses innovative machine learning methods to demonstrate a curvilinear relationship between pay inequality and trust. When pay inequality is at low to moderate levels, increasing inequality is associated with increasing employee trust but when pay inequality passes a certain threshold the relationship turns negative. The relationship is mediated by employees’ perceptions of manager fairness and moderated by employee collective voice. The implications of these findings for theory, research methodology, practice and future studies are discussed.
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This paper engages with Troth and Guest (2019) on psychology in HRM. I argue they misframe the central issue in debate. The real problem is not psychology per se but psychologisation—the drive to reduce explanation of macro‐level HRM outcomes to individual‐level psychological‐behavioural factors and individual differences. Accordingly, the most visible and harmful effects of psychologisation are in strategic HRM, and the HRM‐performance literature but Troth and Guest's defence of psychology does not cover them. I use this response to re‐establish that it is psychologisation, not psychology per se, that is, the critics' focal concern and describe how the three‐decade advance of psychologisation, along with scholastic scientism and normative promotionalism, have created severe theoretical and empirical problems in the high‐performance research programme and taken the strategic HRM field down a 30‐year dead‐end. Suggestions for a turn‐around are provided.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to take a serious look at the relationship between joint consultation systems at the workplace and employee satisfaction, while at the same time accounting for the (possible) interactions with similar union and management-led high commitment strategies. Design/methodology/approach Using new, rich data on a representative sample of British workers, the authors identify workplace institutions that are positively associated with employee perceptions of work and relations with management, what in combination the authors call a measure of the “good workplace.” In particular, the authors focus on non-union employee representation at the workplace, in the form of joint consultative committees (JCCs), and the potential moderating effects of union representation and high-involvement human resource (HIHR) practices. Findings The authors’ findings suggest a re-evaluation of the role that JCCs play in the subjective well-being of workers even after controlling for unions and progressive HR policies. There is no evidence in the authors’ estimates of negative interaction effects (i.e. that unions or HIHR negatively influence the functioning of JCCs with respect to employee satisfaction) or substitution (i.e. that unions or HIHR are substitutes for JCCs when it comes to improving self-reported worker well-being). If anything, there is a significant and positive three-way moderating effect when JCCs are interacted with union representation and high-involvement management. Originality/value This is the first time – to the authors’ knowledge – that comprehensive measures of subjective employee well-being are being estimated with respect to the presence of a JCC at the workplace, while controlling for workplace institutions (e.g. union representation and human resource policies) that are themselves designed to involve and communicate with workers.
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There has been an ongoing debate in the research literature on violations of trustworthiness and the effectiveness of various forms of repair. In this article, three studies compare the effectiveness of several variables hypothesized to repair perceived trustworthiness in a negotiation context: (a) the use of words (accounts or apologies) versus deeds (compensation for the costs of violation), separately and in combination; (b) whether words or deeds pointed to the past or to the future; (c) the effect of an active or passive third‐party monitor of the negotiation, and (d) the type of trustworthiness (competence versus integrity) that was violated. Results show support for the repair effects for deeds over words, and that a focus on the past violation (through either words or deeds) is more effective than looking toward the future. Deeds, rather than words, also accounts for the strong impact of the combination of the two courses of action. In addition, results show that an active third‐party intervention has a stronger impact on repair than a passive intervention. Implications for theory and practice are discussed along with suggestions for future research.
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Purpose Qualitative researchers are often confronted with a dilemma of selecting an appropriate approach within which to situate their research. This has led to successive attempts by qualitative researchers in the built environment (BE) to combine two dominant approaches – deductive and inductive; in the conduct of their inquiry. Such attempts can be traced to the poor comprehension of the abductive approach. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the principles of the abductive approach and illustrate its applicability within the context of BE qualitative research. Design/methodology/approach In this study, an illustrative case study is used to depict the usefulness of the abductive approach in BE research. The case relied upon is a recently completed study of an infrastructure delivery system and an assessment of the system’s ability to deliver on socio-economic sustainability objectives. Findings It was established that extant theories, particularly those with a history of provenance, could be used as a basis for the development of testable propositions for assessing certain phenomena, qualitatively. However, the manner in which these propositions are utilised under an abductive approach is pivotal to the generation of credible findings. Research limitations/implications It is expected that the findings of this paper would create awareness among researchers on the relevance of an abductive approach to qualitative research. Originality/value This study makes an authentic contribution towards resolving the challenge confronting qualitative researchers within the BE discipline as it pertains to selecting between deductive and inductive approaches. In this case, an abductive approach is suggested and its modalities shown through a comprehensive study.
In this paper we show how trust and justice influence the efficacy of employee information and consultation (I&C) bodies. Evidence is drawn from a 2‐year qualitative study of I&C participants in two organizations in the UK. The research builds on Dietz and Fortin's conceptual five‐stage model of the I&C process to provide a more nuanced understanding of I&C trust and justice outcomes. In particular, we point to crucial stages in the process, and how these influence the effectiveness of I&C mechanisms. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
Issues of labour−management cooperation have long attracted the attention of management researchers, practitioners and policymakers. In Britain, the most recent wave of interest has been under the rubric of labour−management partnership, normally concerning the development of cooperative relations between unions and employers. A recurring theme is that cooperative relations can be difficult to develop and sustain, especially in liberal market economies. This paper advances the debate by examining the dynamics of labour−management partnership within the context of a British financial services organization over a 25-year period. Drawing upon empirical case study data collected between 1990 and 2014, we assess the dynamics of the relationship between a building society and the recognized staff union. We confirm the possibility of sustaining collaborative relationships associated with a mutual gains agenda within a liberal market economy as well as the fragility of such arrangements. While we acknowledge that sustaining cooperative regimes can be difficult, we also caution against the tendency towards institutional determinism and underplaying of agency in many of the partnership critiques. Given the lack of a credible alternative, we conclude that labour−management partnership remains an important public policy goal and should not be dismissed as a chimera.