The Rise of High Involvement Management in Britain

Pub. Date
01 October, 2008
Pub. Type

We discuss the nature and genesis of high involvement management (HIM) in Britain. Although an increasing proportion of British workplaces have adopted HIM practices over the last quarter century only a minority of managements have a strong high involvement orientation. HIM is associated with Total Quality Management and other lean production methods but is no more likely to be adopted in a context of enriched jobs than where jobs are more routinized. HIM usage is linked with the characteristics of the organization itself, such as whether the organization is family-owned, and the size and the composition of the workforce. External factors are much less important. There is little evidence that HIM is driving trade unionism out, as suggested by the union substitution hypothesis. Although there is recent evidence that it is associated with higher workplace productivity there is no evidence to suggest that HIM improves worker well-being. If anything, it is associated with higher levels of anxiety. Work enrichment, on the other hand, is correlated with positive outcomes for workers and employees alike.