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The knowledge society and high performance workplace systems: Enhancing worker voice

This paper focuses on an aspect of the ‘Future of Work’. The introduction of high performance workplace systems (hpws) is, in general terms, consistent with the broad thrust of the ‘knowledge society’ debate. The central thesis holds that the introduction of hpws has the potential to enhance ‘worker voice,’ especially in the context of a ‘third way’ political environment that fosters a more tripartite approach to industrial relations. The paper draws on several pieces of research, each of which has its own methodological approach. The discussion of the ‘knowledge society’ debate and the ‘third way’ political context draws on policy analyses undertaken by Law and Piercy. The body of the paper is based on a survey by Law of union members engaged in a hpws in a large NZ dairy factory. That research involved focus groups and a postal survey. Qualitative (write-in) responses were further analysed using a dynamic coding system developed by Law. The findings are consistent with the (US) work of Black and Lynch. With some qualifications, the introduction of hpws has enhanced worker participation. Active union involvement was a positive factor. For a proportion of union members, the introduction of hpws has had positive off-site effects.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Cochrane, W., Law, M., & Piercy, G. (2004). The knowledge society and high performance workplace systems: Enhancing worker voice. In Blumenfield, S.B., and Lafferty, G. (Eds.) Labour employment and work in New Zealand: Proceedings of the Eleventh Conference, November 22-23, 2004 , (pp.79-90). Wellington , New Zealand: Industrial Relations Centre, Victoria University of Wellington.
© Copyright 2004 The Authors.