Attitudes towards employee involvement : gender differences and similarities
Employee involvement (EI) has been the focus of considerable research on the management of people in organizations, particularly on whether EI results in improved employee attitudes and behaviours, and in turn company performance. Although EI trends have continued to interest academics and practitioners and are well documented in literature, the literature is relatively silent on studying EI schemes in relation to gender. This thesis intends to reconcile this gap by examining differences between the attitudes of men and women towards EI programmes. A second feature of this research is its focus on a non-western context. This is important both in examining the issue of gender in attitudes towards EI, and expanding the cross-cultural validity of mainly western-oriented research in the broader area of employee participation. Given the above issues and the limited empirical evidence in the context of non-western cultures, the current study sought to explore the attitudes towards EI in a Malaysian context. Quality Circles (QC) and Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOS) were the focus of the current study of EI. The general aim was to understand the relationship between EI and employees' organizational commitment and the effects of gender, degree of participation, and management support within a Malaysian context. Both quantitative and qualitative research approaches were used in a mixed methods study. In the first stage,a survey questionnaire gathered data on employee attitudes from 217 respondents in three Malaysian public utility companies. This data was used to test a series of hypotheses regarding the relationships between attitudes to the EI programmes and organizational commitment, as well as the effects of gender, participation in programmes, and supervisory support. A second qualitative stage used semi structured interviews with management and focus groups with employees to explore further the gender dimension and identify both differences and similarities in the treatment of women at work and their experiences with EI. The research found that there were no significant differences in the attitudes of men and women towards EI schemes; nor were there any gender differences in wider work related attitudes including organizational commitment, job satisfaction and attitudes towards management. Men, however, were still more negative in their general attitudes about women and work. The qualitative phase suggested that Malaysian organizations need a more democratic culture and better support from superiors in order to make EI schemes successful. It was also found that the practices of Malaysian organizations mirrored the issues of stereotyping and lack of opportunities available to women as compared to those of men, which are found in western literature. Overall, the findings of the study served to enrich the EI literature, particularly with respect to the treatment of women, and offered valuable guidelines for non-western organizations seeking to improve the implementation of EI schemes.