Exit and voice in British workplaces 1979-2000 : an analysis using case studies and statistical material
The exit-voice model of the labour market hypothesises that employees who experience a deterioration in working conditions will face a choice between exit or voice. This thesis uses case study and statistical material to analyse recourse to exit and to voice in the UK over the period 1979-2000. A major contribution of the thesis comes in its use of unique data for both statistical and case study analysis. The introductory chapter lays out the data sets which are employed and discusses their uniqueness. Chapter 2 illustrates how voice channels have changed over time, before looking at correlations between collective and individual voice channels and, respectively, satisfaction with work and labour turnover. The next chapter uses a case study of a food manufacturer with particularly high absenteeism to test the stylised facts of absence and to investigate whether absence is a form of voice, indicating unhappiness with conditions of work, or a form of exit. The fourth chapter examines the strength of voice over time, as illustrated by trade unions' and unrepresented employees' ability to influence workplace change. We hypothesise that change implies greater employee effort, which should therefore be accompanied by enhanced remuneration. The link between trade union recognition and the linking of change and rewards is pursued. As we discuss in the conclusion, representation in the UK has changed profoundly over the last twenty five years. Our data confirms the continuation of union influence where they retain recognition rights, but that this is less common. However, our analysis of new direct forms of voice shows that they can have positive outcomes for employees and firms. The thesis makes another contribution in challenging the stylised facts of the phenomena of job satisfaction, quits and absence, emphasising the need to explore new sources of data.