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High involvement management and organisational change: beyond rhetoric

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Industrial relations reform in Australia has resulted in a greater focus on enterprise bargaining and workplace relations between management and employees. The stimulus has been the search for increased efficiency and pro ductivity. Leaders in government, business and unions have agreed that improved human resource management (HRM) is pivotal, but such views have not necessarily been matched by the commitment of management attention, time and resources to HRM in the workplace. The purpose of this paper is to present evidence that high quality communication and consultation between management and employees at the workplace constitutes a high involvement management (HIM) approach leading to greater organizational productivity and effectiveness. The paper does this by exploring the issues involved in moves towards HIM and organizational change. It examines the extent to which enterprises seek more co-operative and collaborative styles of management and explores initiatives for increased levels of productivity and effectiveness through employee satisfaction and commitment. The paper identifies effective consultation and participation arrangements and comments on their role in organizational change and workplace reform. The research is based on a review of existing data sources and original case-study evidence. The cases cover a broad spectrum of Australian manufacturing, including the beverage, metals, automotive and aerospace industries. Each case-study addresses a number of issues including, although not limited to: stimuli for change, main tenance management systems, reward structures, work organization, and finally, the outcomes and success factors for a HIM approach.

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