Employee Involvement in Workplace Governance Post-Collective Bargaining
19 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 1999
Date Written: October 13, 1999
Prepared for a festschrift in honor of Philip Selznick, this essay looks back at his 1969 book Law, Society, and Industrial Justice. The focus is on employee participation in corporate decisionmaking. Taking an interdisciplinary approach (law and sociology), Selznick treats employee involvement as a means to an end; namely, industrial justice. In this model, employee participation is channeled through the collective bargaining system, especially the grievance arbitration process. Participation through such means is desirable, Selznick posits, because it promotes employee self-actualization, confers legitimacy on the enterprise, and protects employees from opportunism. Although acknowledging that LSIJ was an important scholarly work, this essay argues that the decline of private sector collective bargaining and the move towards alternative forms of participatory management calls into question the continuing vitality of Selznick's argument. The essay concludes that a transaction costs economics-based approach to employee involvement is far more revealing than Selznick's sociology-based model, in that it offers generalized predictions about the function of employee involvement that have proven explanatory over time.
JEL Classification: B31, J50, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation