Integrated employee participation schemes in the South African gold-mining industry : a study of their effects and dynamics.
Lord, Jeremy William.
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This research study is concerned with the effects and dynamics of 'integrated' schemes of employee participation, where workers are involved in both work-related decision-making, and also share in the profits of their employer. Prior research and the literature on employee participation has tended to concentrate on the process and effects of either financial participation in isolation, or of decision-making participation, but seldom on situations where both are employed simultaneously. Based on a thorough literature review, this study presents a 'Model of Integrated Employee Participation (incorporating moderating effects)'. The model explicates a process through which both types of worker involvement may operate together, leading to a set of behavioural and performance outcomes. Where the formal participation schemes are operationalised such that, combined, they lead to perceptions equivalent to 'psychological ownership', a substantial goal-congruence and integration of the employee with the organisation occurs. These processes lead, in turn, to influences on individual and organisational outcomes. Antecedent and moderating variables to the operation of such 'integrated' participation schemes are identified in the model. Specifically, the effects of the schemes are postulated to be moderated by employees' biographical and personality factors, by their perceptions of managerial commitment to employee participation, and by their perceptions of aspects of the organisation's managerial system of communication and control. The relevance and implications of the model to the South African gold-mining industry are discussed. Major pillars of this 'Model of Integrated Employee Participation (incorporating moderating effects)' were tested within a detailed investigation of the participation schemes in operation at a profitable South African gold-mining company. This investigation was longitudinal in nature, with two major surveys being performed over a ten-month period. The findings suggested that while the effects of the 'integrated' schemes on employees' job satisfaction, performance and stability were as anticipated, the proposed moderating effects were generally non-existent or insignificant. In order to obtain greater clarity of the dynamics of 'integrated' schemes of employee participation, a path analytic exploration of the interrelationships between the measured variables of the study was then undertaken. A detailed path model was developed and then tested, at three levels of the organisational hierarchy as well as on the entire workforce. The path model was substantially supported for the 'entire workforce', and for the largest stratum of the mine's employees, being the 'unskilled and semi-skilled' workers. Satisfaction with participation was found to be positively and significantly associated with perceived extent of participation. This applied to both the financial and decisional elements of the schemes. Job satisfaction and employee performance were also found to be positively associated with perceived extent of participation and / or satisfaction therewith. Employees' perceptions of managerial commitment to 'integrated participation' predicted their satisfaction therewith. Aspects of the organisation's system of managerial communication and control were found to significantly affect levels of job satisfaction and employee performance in the participative environment of the mine. The model was only partially supported, however, at the more senior levels of 'management' and 'supervisors and artisans'. It thus appeared that 'integrated participation' schemes may not enhance job satisfaction and performance at the higher levels of the organisational hierarchy, and that the schemes' effects may thus be moderated by employee seniority. The empirical findings were supportive of much of the literature on participation programmes. They were particularly consistent with 'affective' and 'contingency' explanatory models of the effects of -participation. The findings did not, however, support 'cognitive' explanatory models of the effects of participation.