Spanning the Boundaries of Work: Workplace Participation, Political Efficacy, and Political Involvement

By Jian, Guowei; Jeffres, Leo | Communication Studies, January-March 2008 | Go to article overview

Spanning the Boundaries of Work: Workplace Participation, Political Efficacy, and Political Involvement


Jian, Guowei, Jeffres, Leo, Communication Studies


Workplace participation has seen increased attention in the past decades (e.g., Cheney et al., 1998; Deetz, 1992, 1995; Harrison, 1994; McLagan & Nel, 1995; Seibold & Shea, 2001; Stohl & Cheney, 2001). However, organizational communication research on workplace participation has been largely confined within the organizational boundaries. In fact, workplace in general has been understudied with regard to its impact on political behavior (Mutz & Mondak, 2006; Putnam, 2000). In spite of Cheney's (1995) call for attention to "the relationship between participation inside and outside the workplace" (p. 187), scant empirical research has attended to this boundary-spanning dimension of workplace participation (Cheney et al., 1998). Grounded in the political spillover theory (Pateman, 1970), this study intends to empirically examine the association of workplace participation and political involvement.

Drawing on classical democratic theories by Mill (1910), Cole (1919), and Dahl (1956), Pateman (1970) proposes that workplace functions as a significant training ground for adult socialization and development of important political skills, and that participatory workplace practices lead to participatory democratic practices in the social political process outside workplace. Pateman suggests internal political efficacy (IPE) as the mediating factor in the association between participation at work and in politics. Since the 1970s, empirical efforts mainly by political scientists (e.g., Elden, 1981; Greenberg, 1986; Mason, 1982; Milbraith & Goel, 1971; Peterson, 1992; Sheppard & Herrick, 1972; R. Sobel, 1993) have focused on the direct association of workplace participation either with IPE or political participation. The mediating effect of IPE has rarely been tested (Greenberg, Grunberg, & Daniel, 1996). One of the objectives of this study is to examine the mediating effect of IPE in the association between participation at work and in politics.

Additionally, the conceptualization of workplace participation since Pateman (1970) has mainly been about job autonomy and work decision involvement. Such an instrumental definition of workplace overlooks the social dimension of work as a community, in which socialization among employees goes beyond contractual relationships and authority structures. Tapping into the socialization at work as a community may further our understanding about the association between participation at work and in politics. In this study, we propose work community participation as an additional dimension to the traditional definition of workplace participation and explore its association with political involvement.

The findings of this study will not only contribute to the development of the political spillover theory but also offer empirical evidence to the discussion over the role of corporations in today's society. Deetz (1992) argues that today's corporations are the new public sphere, where social goods are appropriated and policy decisions made. This study holds the potential to offer empirical evidence with regard to whether microsocial work practices, such as individual job autonomy and socialization in work communities, have far reaching effects on democratic political processes outside the workplace.

The paper will first introduce the political spillover theory, discuss the limitations existing in current empirical research and propose our hypotheses. It will then report an empirical study that we conducted using telephone-survey interviews based on a regional probability sample. Finally, the paper will discuss the results, implications, and limitations of the study and offer directions for future research.

The Political Spillover Theory

Various classical democratic theorists, such as Rousseau (1968), Mill (1910), and Cole (1919), point to the educative effects of nonpolitical social institutions in cultivating people's participation in a democratic political system. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Spanning the Boundaries of Work: Workplace Participation, Political Efficacy, and Political Involvement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.