Management role in employee participation : a comparative study of multi-national enterprises in India and the U.K.
This research is an Anglo-Indian comparative case study. It studies managerial action in the participation arena of two British multi-nationals i.e. Cadbury Limited and ICI plc. The research was carried out in matched pairs of factories of the above named companies, located in the Midlands of the UK and in Bombay in India. The data for this research was collected through semi-structured interviews with managers and non-management actors, study of company documents and non-participant observation of some participation forums. The research conceptualises the idea of a `participation arena' consisting of the structures, processes, purposes and dynamics of participation. This arena is visualised as broadly reflecting the organisation structure and can be divided into corporate, unit and shopfloor level. Managerial action in this arena is examined in terms of interaction between three sets of factors i.e. company business objectives, strategies and policies; managerial values of power and control; and the responses of unions. Similarities and differences between management action in the home and host plants of the two multi-national companies are also examined. The major findings of the research are as follows. There is significant difference between the participation arena of the parent and the subsidiary company. The latter is marked by absence of higher level participation forums and lack of opportunity for employees to discuss, let alone influence, key decisions. This results from parent company control over key activities of the subsidiary. The similarities in management action in the participation arenas of the two companies in both countries can be attributed to the operation of the three sets of factors mentioned above. Nevertheless, the particular circumstances of each company are a greater influence on managerial action than the national context. Finally, future areas of research in this field are explored.