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Article
Publication date: 22 October 2020

Christian Grund, Dirk Sliwka and Krystina Titz

We analyze the role of works councils for the use of performance appraisals (PA). We distinguish between the incidence of PA systems as intended by the firm and their…

Abstract

Purpose

We analyze the role of works councils for the use of performance appraisals (PA). We distinguish between the incidence of PA systems as intended by the firm and their actual implementation on the level of the individual employee.

Design/methodology/approach

We draw on two complementary data sets. These are the German Linked Personnel Panel (LPP), which combines firm-based information with information provided by several of those employees, and the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), which is a representative longitudinal study of persons living in Germany.

Findings

We find that works councils tend to promote rather than restrict PA. Employees working in establishments with a works council are more likely to face a formal PA procedure. Works councils also act as a transmission institution for the actual use of an existing PA system – i.e. among the firms that claim to implement PA for all their employees, the likelihood of their employees actually having regular appraisals is substantially larger when works councils are in place. Moreover, the existence of works councils is positively related particularly to PA systems, which affects bonus payments.

Research limitations/implications

We contribute to the understanding of the work of works councils in firms. In more general, we shed light to the relation of industrial relations and human resource management in firms.

Practical implications

This result hints at a higher acceptance of PA systems in firms with works councils. It seems likely that the stronger formalization of such systems necessitated by codetermination laws increases the likelihood of supervisors consistently carrying out such appraisals.

Originality/value

We are the first who complement the analysis of the existence of HR practices (PA system) with its actual use for employees.

Details

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-7641

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2003

Peter Kerkhof, Annemieke B. Winder and Bert Klandermans

In Western Europe, works councils are a common form of indirect employee participation in management decision making. Trust is often assumed to play an important role in…

Abstract

In Western Europe, works councils are a common form of indirect employee participation in management decision making. Trust is often assumed to play an important role in the nature and outcomes of labour negotiations and in management‐works council consultations. So far, however, the antecedents of trust in management within works councils have not been studied. Using longitudinal data collected among the members of 75 Dutch works councils, the current study tests predictions regarding the relative influence of instrumental vs relational antecedents on the level of trust in management among works council members. An important role of instrumental predictors (e.g. perceived influence of the works council on management decision making) supports a view of trust as a calculative phenomenon. On the other hand, strong effects of relational predictors would lend support to trust as a relational phenomenon. The data show that trust in management among works council members is related to relational rather than instrumental antecedents.

Details

Personnel Review, vol. 32 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0048-3486

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Article
Publication date: 17 July 2018

Uwe Jirjahn

A growing number of econometric examinations show that works councils substantially shape the personnel policy of firms in Germany. Firms with works councils make greater…

Abstract

Purpose

A growing number of econometric examinations show that works councils substantially shape the personnel policy of firms in Germany. Firms with works councils make greater use of various human resource management (HRM) practices. This gives rise to the question of whether employers view the shaping of personnel policy positively or negatively. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of works councils on employer attitudes toward HRM practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data from manufacturing establishments, multivariate and recursive multivariate models are applied to estimate the determinants of employer attitudes toward HRM practices.

Findings

The incidence of a works council increases the probability of positive employer attitudes toward the incentive effects of performance pay, profit sharing, promotions, further training and worker involvement in decision making. However, it decreases the probability of positive employer attitudes toward high wages. The results suggest that works councils play a redistribution role in wages and a collective voice role in the other HRM practices.

Originality/value

The study complements examinations focusing on the influence of works councils on the formal presence of HRM practices. There are two potential limitations of focusing solely on formal HRM practices. First, the formal presence of a practice does not necessarily mean that the practice is effectively used. Second, a firm may informally use HRM practices even though the practices have not been formally adopted. The study provides insights into the question of whether or not works councils influence employers’ support for the various practices. This support can be important for the effective use of the practices, regardless of whether they are of formal or informal nature.

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2001

Steve French

This article examines the relationship between German trade unions and works councils, adopting a framework that identifies three main influences on the works council; the…

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between German trade unions and works councils, adopting a framework that identifies three main influences on the works council; the locus of bargaining, economic conditions and the strength of workplace unionism. The findings of an attitudinal survey of works council chairpersons in the metalworking industry, which examines both the influence of trade unions and the impact of unification on workplace industrial relations, are then reported. The results suggest that union density and union workplace organisation does strengthen the loyalty of works councillors to their union and that east German works councillors in metalworking may have more co‐operative relationships with management. Comparisons with the clothing industry, however, show larger sectoral differences, with metalworking works councils much less co‐operative in both the old and new Länder, reflecting the vanguard role of IG Metall and the importance of workplace mobilisation to the union.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 22 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

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Article
Publication date: 4 June 2019

Benno Koch, Samuel Muehlemann and Harald Pfeifer

Works councils have the legal right to participate in a firm’s training process and, where necessary, call for a replacement of training instructors. The purpose of this…

Abstract

Purpose

Works councils have the legal right to participate in a firm’s training process and, where necessary, call for a replacement of training instructors. The purpose of this paper is to empirically test whether works councils are associated with a higher quality of apprenticeship training – or its inputs or outputs – in Germany.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use two representative cross-sectional surveys of German workplaces in 2007 and 2012/2013 that were conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Germany. To account for selection on observables, the authors apply nearest neighbor matching models to estimate the extent to which works councils are associated with training quality.

Findings

The results shed light on the influence of works councils on the quality of apprenticeship training in Germany. Based on a quality model, the authors show that works councils are associated with a (moderately) higher output quality of apprenticeships, particularly with respect to the share of retained apprentices. However, the authors do not find empirical evidence for a positive association between works councils and input- and process-quality indicators.

Research limitations/implications

Although the identification of causal effects due to the existence of works councils is difficult and cannot be fully addressed in the analysis, the authors can use a number of important control variables at the workplace level. The results suggest that a works council only plays a moderate role in enhancing the quality of the German apprenticeship system.

Originality/value

The authors provide the first direct empirical evidence of how the existence of a works council is associated with the input-, process- and outcome-quality measures of the German apprenticeship system.

Details

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-7641

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1979

“All things are in a constant state of change”, said Heraclitus of Ephesus. The waters if a river are for ever changing yet the river endures. Every particle of matter is…

Abstract

“All things are in a constant state of change”, said Heraclitus of Ephesus. The waters if a river are for ever changing yet the river endures. Every particle of matter is in continual movement. All death is birth in a new form, all birth the death of the previous form. The seasons come and go. The myth of our own John Barleycorn, buried in the ground, yet resurrected in the Spring, has close parallels with the fertility rites of Greece and the Near East such as those of Hyacinthas, Hylas, Adonis and Dionysus, of Osiris the Egyptian deity, and Mondamin the Red Indian maize‐god. Indeed, the ritual and myth of Attis, born of a virgin, killed and resurrected on the third day, undoubtedly had a strong influence on Christianity.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2002

Tony Royle

This paper focuses on the employment practices of both multinational corporations (MNCs) and large national competitors in the German fast‐food industry, such as Burger…

Abstract

This paper focuses on the employment practices of both multinational corporations (MNCs) and large national competitors in the German fast‐food industry, such as Burger King, Pizza Hut, Nordsee, McDonald’s, Churrasco and Blockhaus. The paper poses a number of questions. Have the activities of MNCs affected the employment practices of national companies? Are companies adopting union exclusion policies and if so why and to what extent? Does the “country of origin effect” help explain the activities of MNCs? What changes are evident in workers’ terms and conditions and how effective are statutory systems of employee representation in practice? The findings suggest that Anglo‐Saxon‐based MNCs are more likely to adopt anti‐works council and non‐union policies in the sector, suggesting that MNCs may indeed be able to transfer their management practices across borders, imposing their employer‐based systems with little regard for German institutional arrangements.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 24 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Manfred Weiss

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the effectiveness of labour law based on the experience of Germany.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the effectiveness of labour law based on the experience of Germany.

Design/methodology/approach

The article provides an analysis of the factual impact of labour law in Germany.

Findings

Different subsystems – as are labour administration, labour court system, works council system, collective bargaining system and individual labour law protection – show deficiencies of factual implementation which are inherent to the structure of these subsystems and not easily to be changed. The most problematic area are small and medium‐sized enterprises where to a great extent works councils as internal monitors do not exist.

Originality/value

The paper offers some randomly selected examples to illustrate the problems at stake.

Details

Managerial Law, vol. 48 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0558

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2004

Manfred Weiss

Looks at the unique way Germany’s trade unions work, by the use of workers’ participation with elected representatives, which uses works councils in conjunction with…

Abstract

Looks at the unique way Germany’s trade unions work, by the use of workers’ participation with elected representatives, which uses works councils in conjunction with management. Briefly sketches the structure and function of these very different and apposite ends of the spectrum.

Details

Managerial Law, vol. 46 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0558

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1999

Thomas Murakami

The paper contributes to the discussion on works councils and teamwork in the German auto industry. General Motors’ Opel plant in Germany has been chosen to study works

Abstract

The paper contributes to the discussion on works councils and teamwork in the German auto industry. General Motors’ Opel plant in Germany has been chosen to study works councils’ participation in the process of introducing teamwork, and the effects of teamwork on workers’ representation on the shopfloor. The paper discusses the “dual structure” of works councils and union representatives, and will examine their role during the introduction of teamwork and relationship to their elected team spokespersons. The two key findings are: first, both levels of workers’ representation have contributed to the successful introduction of workplace changes and second, team spokespersons can be seen as a third level of workers’ representation.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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