Information and the Effectiveness of Employee Participation in Organizations

by Karen R. Berman
Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Psychology
California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles
Kelin Gersick, Ph.D., Chairperson

Employee participation has been cited as a means of sustained competitive advantage for organizations in today’s environment. Recently, many major organizations have tried some form of employee participation. The research in the field of employee participation has a long history and is far reaching. An emerging area of employee participation research focuses on the importance of information in employee participation. Information, operationalized as developing knowledge and sharing information, appears to make employee participation more successful. The purpose of this research is to develop a greater understanding of the role of information in employee participation.

In this field study, data was collected from three groups in an organization implementing a form of employee participation that includes information called open book management. Group 1 implemented open book management; group 2 implemented general employee participation activities; and group three maintained standard non-participation management techniques. Employee attitude, financial data and operational data were collected pretest and post test. It was anticipated the open book management group would improve more in employee attitudes, financial results and operational results than the general employee participation group or the standard non participation group. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine statistical significance between the groups.

None of the results were statistically significant and none of the hypotheses were confirmed. Two trends were discovered: a) employee turnover decreased in the open book management group and increased in both control groups, and b) gross profit as a percent of sales and profit as a percent of sales increased in the open book management group and was mixed in the two control groups. The lack of statistical significance may have been due to the small n size and the short time frame of the period studied. The trends discovered converge with some of the employee participation literature and much of the information literature.

For more information about Karen Berman’s dissertation, please contact the Business Literacy Institute.

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