consultation

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consultation

the process in which managers inform and seek the views of others before finally deciding what course of action to take. It may take place with interested parties outside the organization, for example local authorities, or with those inside. In INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, joint consultation is where managers consult with employee representatives. It differs from COLLECTIVE BARGAINING in that managers do not usually seek formal agreement and in theory NEGOTIATION does not occur. Instead, representatives are there to listen to management plans and to express their views on them. However, since these views may be forcefully expressed and may be backed up by substantial power resources, managers may have to modify or even abandon their plans as a result. Thus the difference between consultation and collective bargaining may therefore be more apparent than real, and may hinge on the procedural distinction that disagreements during consultation cannot normally be carried forward to the next stage of a GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE.

Consultation may occur in a variety of bodies – joint consultative committee, works committee, etc. – and may involve workplace trade union representatives (SHOP STEWARDS) or representatives elected by all employees separately from union channels of representation. In the latter case, the consultative body is often known as the Works Council, after the German name for such institutions (see CO-DETERMINATION).

Traditionally, consultation has been viewed as dealing with minor welfare issues (‘tea ‘n toilets’) though major rationalizations can be the subject of consultation. However, it is a common complaint that employees are either not consulted at all over such important issues or else consultation is left to such a late stage that it is impossible to modify managerial plans. In recent years some companies, e.g. some of the Japanese firms in the UK, have extended consultation to cover issues relating to company strategy whilst legislation has stipulated that information should be disclosed to unions and their representatives relating to REDUNDANCY. Equally, there has been a shift in some organizations from formal joint consultation with employee representatives to direct COMMUNICATION with individual employees. Currently the EUROPEAN WORKS COUNCIL directive of the European Union is requiring that large European firms with plants in more than one member state establish works councils composed of employee representatives from all parts of the company for the purpose of consultation on key issues of company strategy. See DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION, EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT, EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION.

References in classic literature ?
The truth is, that in all cases a certain number at least seems to be necessary to secure the benefits of free consultation and discussion, and to guard against too easy a combination for improper purposes; as, on the other hand, the number ought at most to be kept within a certain limit, in order to avoid the confusion and intemperance of a multitude.
The steward for his part tried to pretend to the count that he considered these consultations very valuable for the proprietor and troublesome to himself.
He now lit a pipe, and, sitting down with the two guides, proceeded to hold a consultation after the Indian mode.
She heard from the next room the sisters' voices in consultation.
Additional pursuers were sent on the trail of the fugitives; and then the chiefs applied themselves, in earnest, to the business of consultation.
Throwing off, therefore, the appearance of consultation, he assumed the grave air of authority necessary to support the dignity of his office.
And I,' said the son, 'seeing my father pass the door of the waiting-room, naturally thought that the consultation had come to an end.
Well,' said I, laughing, 'there is no harm done except that you puzzled me terribly; so if you, sir, would kindly step into the waiting-room I shall be happy to continue our consultation which was brought to so abrupt an ending.
They had eaten breakfast, had put their camp in order, and were about to have a consultation on what was best to do, when Tom suddenly called to Ned, who was whistling:
A consultation was now entered into how to proceed in order to discover the mother.
At length, after long consultation, the Cat said, 'I know of no place where it could be better put than in the church.
Our camel drivers getting together to consult on this occasion, we suspected they had some ill design in hand, and got ready our weapons; they perceived our apprehensions, and set us at ease by letting us know the reason of their consultation.

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