Employee Voice in Emerging Economies: Volume 23

Cover of Employee Voice in Emerging Economies

Table of contents

(8 chapters)


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It could be argued that in Argentina, workers’ voice has never been silenced. In a legislative system protecting workers and politically and legally empowering trade unions, these organisations have historically represented workers. Voice however has never been limited to institutionalised and organisational forms. It has often exploded in informal ways out of workers’ experiences of the precariousness of their labour processes and of the contradictions generated between this and formal voice and representation. But it has also emerged in novel forms, through the occupation of factories, roads and public places, in moments of deep economic crisis or among groups of informally employed workers.

The case of Argentina certainly calls for a broader understanding of voice tied to the idea of voice as a socially and politically mediated process, through which formal and informal channels of voice can be alternatively created, destroyed and recreated.

The paper attempts to trace these multiple forms of voice in the recent social history of Argentina using ethnographic research conducted by the author.


The missing employee voice has become a salient topic in China. This paper aims to document the newest developments relating to the topic by reviewing the recent literature on employment relations and employee voice. The findings of this paper suggest that the purposes of and channels for the employee voice in China have been undergoing significant changes. Different stakeholder groups have approached the issue. ‘Democratic management’ in China, the country’s home-grown concept of employee voice, has been resurrected to encourage more effective employee representation. Apart from this top-down influence from the government and All-China Federation of Trade Unions, this paper also identifies the bottom-up approach driven by the workers, and the external influence from the global corporate social responsibility campaign and nongovernmental labour organizations. Based on the review of the newest developments in workplace democracy and the employee voice in China, this paper proposes a stakeholder framework incorporating these developments. The authors also suggest some directions for future research.


The labor regulatory framework in India provides a conducive environment for social dialogue and collective participation in the organizational decision-making process (Venkata Ratnam, 2009). Using data from a survey of workplace union representatives in the federal state of Maharashtra, India, this paper examines union experiences of social dialogue and collective participation in public services, private manufacturing, and private services sector. Findings indicate that collective worker participation and voice is at best modest in the public services but weak in the private manufacturing and private services. There is evidence of growing employer hostility to unions and employer refusal to engage in a meaningful social dialogue with unions. These findings are discussed within the political economy framework of employment relations in India examining the role of the state and judiciary in employment relations and, the links between political parties and trade unions in India.


This paper examines the role of cultural values measured as collectivism, face-saving, and conflict-avoidance, in predicting employee voice behavior. Using data (n = 198) collected from automotive-industry employees in the United States (US) and Korea, several interesting findings emerged. First, and most notably, for a “leaver” who chooses the exit option, culture does not matter, such that none of the three cultural values have a significant association with the exit option across countries. Second, for a “stayer,” who chooses the voice, loyalty, or neglect option, culture does matter in that cultural-specific values, such as collectivism, face-saving, and conflict-avoidance were found to affect employees nonexit options in the Korean sample, but not in the U.S. sample. The results of this study suggest that these three cultural values guide and predict employee voice behavior. Additionally, the results of this study confirm that job alternatives are a significant predictor of the exit option across cultures. This study therefore presents strong empirical evidence of the effect of culture on employee voice behavior and increases our understanding of employee voice behavior across cultures.


This paper addresses a highly under-research question of employee voice in Belarus using labour process theory, specifically, Ramsay’s (1977) cycles of control theory to assess the evolution of voice at transitional periphery. Using the sample of 10 industrial enterprises, the paper explores the degree of management control over formal voice and the role of trade unions in defending of independent voice at the collective level. Informal voice at the individual level is also analysed. The findings demonstrate that the degree of direct control over formal voice in Belarus exceeds that in the Soviet Union due to suppression of independent trade union voice. The loss of workers’ control over the labour process has led to decreasing informal voice at the individual level. However, the earlier argument on workers’ patience is not supported due to a growing number of organised workers protests.


This paper examines the exercise of Black employee voice in South Africa over the past 53 years. Black workers constitute almost 4 out of every 5 workers in the country and experienced racial oppression from the time of colonisation up to the end of apartheid in 1994. They are still congregated around the lower skilled occupations with low incomes and high unemployment levels.

The paper draws on the theory of voice, exit and loyalty of Albert Hirschman, but extends voice to include sabotage as this encapsulates the nature of employee voice from about 2007 onwards. It reflects a culture of insurgence that entered employment relations from about that time onwards, but was lurking below the surface well before then.

The exercise of employee voice has gone through five phases from 1963 to mid-2016 starting with a silent phase for the first ten years when it was hardly heard at all. However, as a Black trade union movement emerged after extensive strikes in Durban in 1973, employee voice grew stronger and stronger until it reached an insurgent phase.

The phases employee voice went through were heavily influenced by the socio-political situation in the country. The reason for the emergence of an insurgent phase was due to the failure of the ruling African National Congress government to deliver services and to alleviate the plight of the poor in South Africa, most of whom are Black. The failure was due to neo-patrimonialism and corruption practised by the ruling elite and politically connected. Protests by local communities escalated and became increasingly violent. This spilled over into the workplace. As a result many strikes turned violent and destructive, demonstrating voice exercised as sabotage and reflecting a culture of insurgence.


The paper explores the historical evolution of employee voice in Namibia from an employment relations (ER) perspective and in the context of institutional factors such as labour legislation, trade union strategies, company policies and governmental regulations. The first part of the paper provides a brief outline of ER conceptions of voice that are manifest in the recent resurgence of interest in the topic. The next part traces the historical evolution of labour regulation and employee voice in Namibia. It is shown that, in the absence of collective voice and statutory protections, informal voice and occupational solidarity were the primary means of defence available to black workers against oppressive conditions. In the final part, an outline of some key features of employee voice in contemporary Namibia is provided. The analysis shows that systems of employee voice are fundamentally a manifestation of the balance of powers at a particular time and place. It is therefore crucial to link voice preferences and behaviours in the workplace to specific preconditions and to highlight the limiting factors that serve to constrain choice.

Cover of Employee Voice in Emerging Economies
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Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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