Direct participation practices and psychosocial risks at work. Empirical characterisation of a controversial relationship (2023)

In both the sociology of work and the public health, there continues to be considerable controversy about the effects of direct participation practices on working conditions. A limited amount of research has addressed this relationship from the perspective of psychosocial risk prevention, and only a very small amount through population-based studies with validated instruments. Research on this subject in Spain is even scarcer. By joining the calls to incorporate “OHS issues” into research on “employment and working conditions” and the “work organisation” into research on “occupational health” to promote primary prevention, this thesis has sought to advance knowledge of the relationship between direct participatio practices and psychosocial risks, with an interdisciplinary perspective.
Aims: To study, characterise and understand the relationships between labour management practices regarding direct participation and psychosocial risks; to establish the role played by their features in terms of degrees of discretion (consultation, delegation, or both) and participation domains (operational or tactical); and to analyse and visualise possible differences between salaried workers’ segments.
Methods: Emergent sequential mixed methods design. The quantitative phase was developed using data from two representative surveys of the salaried population in Spain. It was complemented by a qualitative phase, based on key informant interviews and focus groups with workers in manual jobs in three cases.
Results: The use of direct participation, in the two quantitative studies, was either consistently associated with healthier working conditions, more frequently and more intensely among the salaried population in manual jobs and among women, mostly in relation to control and social support; or it was innocuous, among workers in professional and technical jobs and in all segments studied in relation to work pace. In terms of degrees of discretion, the frequency and intensity of associations indicating healthiness were higher when consultation and delegation were used in combination. When used separately, consultation performed better in manual jobs and delegation in non-manual ones. The participation domains only make a difference among professional and technical jobs, with better results when direct participation was on tactical issues.

Author: Clara Llorens Serrano

Supervisors: Antonio Martín Artiles, Salvador Moncada i Lluís i Fausto Miguélez Lobo

Date of thesis defense: 16/06/2023


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