This book offers a critical assessment of employee participation in Europe. It addresses both the internal dynamics of participatory systems in specific countries, and transnational policies and problems at the level of the European Union. Combining historical, sociological and comparative analysis, the author presents an understanding of the role of participation in contemporary industrial relations. Herman Knudsen shows how participation, while widely approved as an ideal, represents divergent interests and rationales for the different actors employees, employers and governments. The ways in which participation has been introduced and the variations in its practice are illustrated by detailed examination of the origins and development of participatory institutions in Germany, Britain, Spain and Denmark. This comparative approach clarifies the ways in which specific models of participation are embedded in national industrial relations systems and cultures.
Beyond the national level, the author addresses two major influences on the changing context of participation in contemporary industrial relations: the initiatives of the European Union, and the growing importance of information technology. This broad-ranging review will be useful reading for all scholars of industrial and personnel relations, human resource management, sociology of work and employment, and related disciplines.
`Knudsen's book is of use because he is concerned to show that the advent of interest in this area still has to deal with competing regulatory traditions in Western Europe which he labels as follows: strong legal rights (Germany), employer led legal rights (Britain), adversarial settings (Spain), co-operative contexts (Denmark).... the case is well made that the diversity of industrial relations systems are still a crucial factor in determining the nature of worker involvement.... catalogue[s] the way in which employee involvement and participation are increasingly becoming a site of struggle between distinct interests at work in a thorough and well-documented manner' - Industrial Relations Journal
`The book provides a welcome extension to the debate on participation, particularly in the comparative method of analysis' - Employment Bulletin and Industrial Relations Digest
`An outstanding feature of this book is the sober treatment of the parties' position on participation and its factual content of a very high quality built on an extended number of valuable references comprising official documents and research reports and the author's shorter or longer periods of study visits to the other three countries. The book is clearly written with conclusions at the end of each chapter.... All in all the book is to be recommended to all those industrial relations actors who have responsibility for taking positions on the issue of participation because it shows its broad nature, its functions and dynamics and thereby gives a better foundation for choosing one's standpoint. Add to this its factual information and the book should also be recommended to students of European industrial and personnel relations and related disciplines' - Transfer
`Knudsen's book provides a concise and well-written overview of recent European developments in employee participation, as well as useful insights into the less well-known examples of Denmark and Spain' - The Journal of Industrial Relations