The literature on employee voice has grown enormously over the past decades. However, the relationships between different employee voice mechanisms and organizational performance are far from being fully understood, and the existing research shows mixed evidence. Moreover, the HRM literature tends to concentrate on individual voice mechanisms (e.g. employee involvement) and to underestimate the role that collective voice may have in the HRM performance relationship. This paper aims to analyze how collective employee voice mechanisms (i.e. union voice and team voice) affect organizational productivity and how these relationships vary when voice mechanisms are adopted in combination with other HRM practices (i.e. variable pay, training, performance appraisals and multitasking). The analysis of a sample of 223 Italian manufacturing firms matched with an external database (AIDA) containing balance sheet information found that union voice is positively related to labor productivity, while team voice does not show any significant relationship with labor productivity. Moreover, both union and team voice have important moderation effects in the HRM-performance relationship. Union voice moderates positively the relationship between variable pay and performance and negatively the relationship between training and performance. Team voice positively moderates the relationship between training and performance. The implications of these findings are discussed.
The human resource management (HRM) and industrial relations (IR) literature on employee voice has grown enormously in recent decades. Given the broad scope of the concept and its importance in contemporary workplaces, researchers have focused their attention on a wide range of aspects connected with the phenomenon, including the evolution of its meaning (e.g., Dundon, Wilkinson, & Marchington, 2004; Wilkinson, Dundon, Donaghey, & Freeman, 2014); determinants, consequences, and trends of the different forms it can assume (e.g., Brewster, Brooks, Croucher, & G.Wood, 2007; Bryson, 2004; Bryson, Charlwood, & Forth, 2006; Kaufman, 2015; Willman, Gomez, & Bryson, 2009); its relationship with individual and organizational outcomes (e.g., Deery, Iverson, Buttigieg, & Zatzick, 2014; Freeman & Medoff, 1984; Kim, MacDuffie, & Pil, 2010; Pyman, Cooper, Teicher, & Holland, 2006; Royer, Waterhouse, Brown, & Festing, 2008); and the role of the institutional and organizational context in shaping voice systems and in influencing their effects in different countries (e.g., Godard, 2010; Ribarova, 2001; Marchington, 2015; Townsend, Wilkinson, & Burgess, 2013). With regard to the relationship between employee voice and performance, at a theoretical level, both the HRM and the IR literature considers employee voice to be a key factor in the success of modern workplaces because of the better employee outcomes and higher organizational performance that it is supposed to generate. Empirically, the most recent development of this stream of research can be summarized in three broad trends. First, because of the declining role and power of unions in Western economies, a shift in the focus of analyses from collective and indirect to individual and direct mechanisms of employee voice is apparent (Barry & Wilkinson, 2016; Bryson, 2004; Kim et al., 2010; Pyman et al., 2006). Second, the emergence and success of the highperformance work system (HPWS) approach have fostered a tendency to analyze (direct) employee voice as a part of the wider HRM system and to pay much less attention to its role as a single practice (Combs, Liu, Hall, & Ketchen, 2006; Harley, 2014; Wood & Wall, 2007) or in combination with other single human resource (HR) practices (e.g., performance pay, training, etc.). Third, as a consequence of the first two trends, researchers increasingly focus on the emergence of different mixes of employee voice mechanisms in the same workplaces and on their potential outcomes (e.g., Benson & Brown, 2010; Holland, Cooper, Pyman, & Teicher, 2012; Kim et al., 2010; Marchington, 2015; McCloskey & McDonnell, 2018; Wilkinson, Barry, Gomez, & Kaufman, 2018).