The subject of employee involvement (El) has become much more central to debates about industrial relations and personnel management over the course of the last decade. Employers, confronted by increasingly competitive product markets and a greater emphasis on quality and customer care, have started to focus attention much more explicitly on attempts to develop and motivate employees, as well as aiming to draw more fully upon employee knowledge and talents. At the same time, developments within the EC — especially via the Social Charter — have caused British employers to think more carefully about how to involve employees at work. Amongst the academic community, the subject has also undergone a renaissance, with researchers questioning whether EI is really new, whether it is little more than a facade for u itarist management, or how it interrelates with human resource management or the “new industrial relations”. It is within such a context that our study of employee involvement was commissioned by the Department of Employment and commenced in the summer of 1989.
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