"Learning about Democracy at Work: Cross-National Evidence on Individual Employee Voice Influencing Political Participation in Civil Society"
Using European Social Survey data, this article analyzes the extent to which individual autonomy and participation in decision making at the workplace are linked empirically to individual political behaviors in civil society. The results, which are consistent with the hypothesis of a positive outward democratic spillover from the workplace to the political arena, point to the possibility of a learning effect. Much of the literature studies small samples in a single country, whereas we analyze more than 14,000 workers across 27 countries. The results do not appear to be driven by specific countries, which suggests that this spillover effect is a general phenomenon across a variety of institutional contexts, although some features of a countrys electoral system moderate some of the results.
If a causal link can be established in which voice practices in the workplace positively influence participation in civil society, then this could be seen as a positive outward democratic spillover. Understanding this spillovercan help inform public policy on employee participation (Budd and Zagelmeyer 2010) and contribute toward understanding the ways in which a society can encourage more active political participation among its citizenry. Indeed, the most optimistic of the existing scholarship implies that this spillover may hold the key to shaping democratic societies (Greenberg 1986). Moreover, evaluations of organizational management practices aretypically directed inward, largely focusing on how they affect organizations and work-related outcomes for individuals. A clearer understanding of any‘‘outward’’ links between workplace practices and political behaviors can help to inform a fuller assessment of the effects of human resources systems beyond the workplace. (p.957)
KeywordsDemocracy, Political Participation, Empirical Study, Democratic Theory
ThemesRepublicanism, Democracy and Work
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