In the first instance is necessary to define both employee participation as well as what is meant by performance. Employee participation may be defined as the process by which employees are involved in the decision making process of a business rather than merely being expect to following instructions (Times 2009) and as such this forms what is referred to in HR as empowerment. Performance on the other hand can be considered from two perspectives, firstly there is the performance of the individual in question and how their personal performance is affected by the concept of employee participation. Secondly there is the performance of the organisation as a whole to consider and how this will change with varying degrees of employee participation. As such the essay will analyse performance from these two perspectives before drawing a conclusion as to the perceived benefits for both parties.
Traditional views of the organisation and approaches to management have seen a clear distinction between the tasks of managers and those of the grass roots level employee. Advocates of this view such F W Taylor (1911) and others within the scientific management school of thought sought to increase productivity and thus performance by deskilling the workforce and breaking tasks down into the most minuet component jobs so as to take advantage of specialisation of labour. The policies implemented by such advocates may be seen as the exact opposite of those who support the theory of employee participation as the scientific school of management sought to centralise power and control into the hands of managers rather than devolve it to the workforce. From a performance perspective the introduction of scientific management techniques saw significant dividends yielded to those who employed them for instance production at the Bethlehem steelworks was maintained with a reduction of labour from 500 to 140 (ACCEL 2009) meaning that performance per employee had increased significantly. However these early developments in management theory previous to the conception of employee participation should not be used to discredit the theory due to a number of special considerations. In the first instance such theories were applied to manufacturing operations and heavy industry and whilst these operations still form a large part of the economy today there has since been a large shift towards service industries requiring differing management styles and techniques. In addition at least part of the success of the scientific management may be associated with the technological developments of the day such as the introduction of the production line as highlighted by Ford’s success at the River Rouge plant in Detroit. At the other end of the scale the “self-directed work team” as defined by (Williams 1995) may be seen as the ultimate exercise in employee participation and has been implemented by companies such as 3M. Under this system teams are essentially left to fulfil the role of both the managers and employees of an operation with a significant input in production techniques,
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