Managerial Control and the Limits to Employee Participation in Retail Work Spaces: Evidence from a UK IKEA Store

19 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2018

See all articles by Karen Bilsland

Karen Bilsland

University of Glasgow

Andrew Cumbers

University of Glasgow

Date Written: July 2018

Abstract

This article contributes to labour process debates around managerial control and worker autonomy in the retail workplace. Through critical analysis of managerial strategies in the production of organisational space within an IKEA store, it explores how spatial design and practice shape managerial control and employee participation. Rather than the rhetoric of employee participation espoused by IKEA, our findings emphasise how managers use space to foster employee commitment to corporate objectives. While employees do exercise their own agency and spatial practice, their actions are moulded and constrained by dominant organisational structures and managerial strategies. As such, the article augments existing labour process research by developing new insights about how the spatial dimension shapes managerial control in retail workplaces. Although workers are far from the passive recipients of management decisions apparent in much labour process theory, their participation largely serves the strategic visions and spatial plans of their employer.

Keywords: organisational control, labour process theory, participation, autonomy, retail, spatiality of work

Suggested Citation

Bilsland, Karen and Cumbers, Andrew, Managerial Control and the Limits to Employee Participation in Retail Work Spaces: Evidence from a UK IKEA Store (July 2018). New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol. 33, Issue 2, pp. 130-148, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3212455 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12110

Karen Bilsland (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow ( email )

Adam Smith Business School
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8LE
United Kingdom

Andrew Cumbers

University of Glasgow ( email )

Adam Smith Business School
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8LE
United Kingdom

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