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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.
Herman Knudsen is Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations and the Sociology of Work at Aalborg University in Denmark.