Organisations have been faced with a more and more competitive environ-ment and technological change over the last 30 years (D’aveni; Volberda, cited in Riordan, Vandenberg, and Richardson 2005, p. 471). Thus, nowa-days, employees have to be more flexible and in possession of high skills. Because of these requirements organisations have to choose a commitment policy in direction of workforce (Walton, cited in Gennard and Judge 2003, p. 229). Employee involvement is seen as one way to achieve these exigencies (Huselid; Lawler, cited in Riordan, Vandenberg, and Richardson 2005, p. 471).
Gennard and Judge (2003) state that employee involvement is intended to create a committed workforce to conducive to the efficient business activity of an organisation. The focus at this is on the individual employees (Gennard and Judge 2003) and it is presumed that employees have an unexploited ca-pability due to their know-how and experience to improve an organisation’s performance. (Gennard and Judge 2003). However, the management has the power to run the business and therefore to make the final decisions (Stevens, cited in Gennard and Judge 2003, p. 228).The management’s aim by adoption of an employee involvement system is to attain the acceptance of the employee to its actions based on commitment and not control (Gennard and Judge 2003). Employee involvement can be divided in upward and downward mechanisms and the respective emphasis of measures varies broadly (Gennard and Judge 2003). The downward mechanism, for example, contains team briefings, workplace meetings and employee handbooks whereas the upward mechanism contains suggestion schemes, problem-solving groups, TQM and quality circles (Gennard and Judge 2003).
Why should increased employee involvement raise establishment pro-ductivity and lead to happier workforce? Supporters of employee involvement bring forward the argument that employ-ees can improve the organisation’s performance because they may have useful know-how and information on different processes that management perhaps does not have. (Appelbaum, cited in Jones, Kalmi and Kauhanen 2010, p. 2). Furthermore the combination of different skills of a group of employees is likely to increase the know-how existing in an organisation (Levine and Tyson, cited in Wolf and Zwick 2008, p. 162). In addition, Appelbaum, quoted by Wolf and Zwick (2008, p. 162), notes that inefficiencies, inventories and waste can be reduced by teams giving cost autonomy. It is also argued that through involvement in management, em-ployees may become more satisfied in their job, which can result in reduced costly turnover rates by the reason that employees feel a greater commitment to organisational objectives (Gennard and Judge 2003). Differentiating from the positive predications above, there exist also more doubtful notions. For example, it is argued that structural changes due to em-ployee involvement can cause incertitude and a higher peril of failure and therefore weaken the organisation’s course of business (Hannan and Free-man, cited in Wolf and Zwick 2008, p. 162). Another argument for the fact that employee involvement programs may have negative consequences is that they would lead to an increase of disputes at the place of work...