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Individual employee voice: renegotiation and performance management in public services

By David Marsden


Periodically, the 'zone of acceptance' within which management may use its authority to direct employees' work needs to be adapted to the changing needs of organizations. This paper focuses especially on the non-codified elements of employees' work, such as those commonly the subject of 'psychological contracts', and considers the role of individual employee voice in the process of adaptation, and how it relates to more familiar forms of collective employee voice. It is argued that the process can be analysed as a form of integrative bargaining, and applies the framework from Walton and McKersie. Employee voice enters into this process by virtue of consideration of the respective goals and preferences of both parties. The element of employee voice may be very weak when new work goals and priorities are imposed unilaterally by management, and they may be strong when full consideration is given to the changing needs of both parties. Two examples from work on performance management in the public services are used to illustrate these processes. The paper concludes with a discussion of the ways in which collective employee voice may help to reinforce individual-level integrative negotiation. The paper seeks to contribute to the recent work on why employers choose employee voice mechanisms by broadening the range of policies that should be taken into account, and in particular looking at the potential of performance management as one such form

Topics: HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1080/09585190701393731
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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