High involvement work practices (HIWPs) may empower employees to do their jobs better, and also empower them at the bargaining table. This paper considers whether non‐universal adoption of productivity‐enhancing work practices may, at least in part, be explained by this dual nature of empowerment. It examines the case of a customer service programme in the Northern California division of Safeway stores, its affect on the outcome of a strike against Safeway, and the subsequent pattern of adoption (and non‐adoption) of similar programmes among Safeway's competitors. It concludes that the dual nature of empowerment can help explain the apparent paradox posed by empirical studies; that although HIWPs improve the performance of all sorts of organisations, most organisations do not adopt HIWPs.
Employee Relations: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2003
Keywords: Empowerment; Negotiating; Working practices; Retailing; Customer service management
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