The effect of organisational differences in ownership, control and structure on employee perceptions of participation and empowerment : an analysis of these phenomena in relation to the operational costs of two labour intensive South African companies.
This study investigates the relationships between ownership, control, organisational structure and company operational costs. The workers’ perceptions of participation (financial and decision-making) and empowerment are measured between two labour intensive factories with different ownership structures. The first factory (Kopano) has a workforce that shares equity ownership, or holds proprietary title. It is significant to note that the Kopano workers share in the ownership of the manufacturing section only, and not the upstream activities (mining, etc.), nor the downstream activities (despatch, selling, marketing, etc.). Accordingly, the Kopano owner-workers concentrate on manufacturing only. Employees at the second factory (Lawley) have no equity stake; they do not hold proprietary title and are “normal” salaried employees. The hypotheses seek to identify differences between the two factories, relative to the worker’s sense of participation (financial and decision-making) and empowerment. The rationale is that the workers who hold proprietary title (Kopano) should have a greater sense of financial participation, decision-making participation and empowerment than the workers (Lawley) who do not hold proprietary title. This is tested via questionnaires at both factories and the results obtained strongly support the hypotheses. Given the abovementioned findings, the study then seeks to establish that there will be greater savings in operational costs at Kopano factory (where the workers hold equity title) compared to Lawley (where the workers are not involved in ownership participation). The rationale behind this hypothesis is that operational costs at Kopano should be lower than the operational costs at Lawley (because of the different ownership positions). An analysis of operational costs between factories supports this argument. The study finally seeks to establish a strong balance of probability that the results obtained are because of the different ownership structures. This is confirmed using Mill’s Method of Difference. However, identified weaknesses with this analytical tool suggest that conclusive declaration to this end be the subject of future research.Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2007.