A comparative study of the institutional context for employee participation in organisational governance in Australia and Italy
The current paper is a comparative analysis of employee participation in organisational governance in Italy and Australia. Cultural values determine the expression of institutional configurations, and to this end, we have adopted Hall and Soskice’s Varieties of Capitalism and the Theory of the Firm as informing theoretical frameworks for our comparative study. Hall and Soskice represent Italy as a hybrid economy, and Australia as a liberal market lead economy. The main theoretical contribution of our paper is twofold. First, we hypothesize that the Australian Liberal Market Economic Configuration offers fewer opportunities for employee participation in organisational governance. Second, we critique mainstream Theory of the Firm on the ground that it is inadequate in explaining the phenomenon of employee participation across both economic configurations. We tested our hypotheses on some crucial institutional dimensions: (i) the role of the industrial relations system; (ii) the nature of corporate law; (iii) and the relative diffusion of different organisational forms with participative vis à vis exclusionary governance (although we acknowledge that participatory organisational forms are rare in both Italy and Australia) . We find support for differential facilitation of employee participation across Australian LME and Italian Hybrid economies.
Key words: worker cooperatives; worker control; third sector; neo liberal firm; industrial relations; labour law; corporate law; Australia; Italy