Learning about Democracy at Work: Cross-National Evidence on Individual Employee Voice Influencing Political Participation in Civil Society

John W. Budd, J. Ryan Lamare, Andrew R. Timming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Using European Social Survey data, this article analyzes the extent to which individual autonomy and participation in decision making at the workplace are linked empirically to individual political behaviors in civil society. The results, which are consistent with the hypothesis of a positive outward democratic spillover from the workplace to the political arena, point to the possibility of a learning effect. Much of the literature studies small samples in a single country, whereas we analyze more than 14,000 workers across 27 countries. The results do not appear to be driven by specific countries, which suggests that this spillover effect is a general phenomenon across a variety of institutional contexts, although some features of a country’s electoral system moderate some of the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-985
Number of pages30
JournalILR Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We analyze data from the European Social Survey, Round 5 (hereafter ESS5), which is a cross-national survey of individuals aged 15 and older who live in private households. The survey was funded by the European Commission and European Science Foundation, with additional support from the national research councils. ESS5 includes extensive information on indicators of social attitudes and behaviors. It was conducted in 2010 to 2011 across 27 European countries with an overall sample size in excess of 50,000 individuals, of which approximately 20,000 are workers.1 Based on the ‘‘principle of equivalence’’ (Jowell 1998), ESS5 is nicely suited for cross-national, comparative studies (Jowell, Roberts, Fitzgerald, and Eva 2007). The ESS5 research team employed rigorous and systematic methods to minimize nonresponse bias (Stoop, Billiet, Koch, and Fitzgerald 2010), leading to an overall average response rate of 60.8%. The team also followed a translation strategy to minimize linguistic and semantic discrepancies (European Social Survey 2010). The sample ‘‘was selected by strict random

Publisher Copyright:
© Cornell University 2017.


  • European Union
  • autonomy
  • employee involvement programs
  • international comparisons
  • politics


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