Over the last three decades we have seen several major economic changes that have affected the work organization. These well-documented changes comprise the extensive adoption of information technologies, growing global competition for product and services, deregulation of product and labour markets, the rise of service industries and decline of the heavy manufacturing industries.
In response to these economic changes as well as others brought by societal shifts, businesses are striving to increase their performance and there have been corresponding changes in the structure and activities of the workforce, with employers, policy makers and employees themselves concerned in safeguarding and promoting their interests. This has been reflected in different approaches to employee participation as well in the widened focus in the field of human resource (HR) management research from the micro analytic that previously dominated the field, to a more strategic perspective where human resource practices are adopted for organizational performance (Delery and Doty 1996).
An argument that alternative systems for managing employees and organizing work might lead to superior employee performance and, in turn, superior organizational performance was therefore started (Godard (2004)). Employee involvement practices, also called high performance working practices (HPWPs) or high performance involvement practices (HPIPs) are a set of distinct but interrelated HR practices that together select, develop, retain and motivate a workforce. At the core of all initiatives designed to increase the involvement of workers is to get the lower-level staff more involved in the decision making and work processes, and to allow them greater independence and control over work duties (Cappelli and Rogovsky (1994)).
Previous attempts to examine the relationship between work practices and the performance of firms have usually failed to reveal concrete results due to a number of methodological problems. Some of these are quite common to all efforts to examine organizational performance. Ascertaining causation given diversity of data among samples in what have typically been...