The Role of Employee Participation in Carbon Emission Reduction in the Workplace: The Case of Australia

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:35
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ray MARKEY, Macquarie University, Australia
Joseph MCIVOR, Macquarie University, Australia
Chris F. WRIGHT, University of Sydney, Australia
International Sociological Association 3rd Forum of Sociology,

Vienna, 10-14 July 2016

Stream: Labour, Nature and Corporate Strategy: Resolving Core Contradictions

Paper Title:

The Role of Employee Participation in Carbon Emission Reduction in the Workplace: The Case of Australia


Raymond Markey (Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University)

Joseph McIvor (Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University)

Chris F. Wright (Work and Organisational Studies, University of Sydney)


This paper addresses a research gap on the role of employee participation in motivating workplace climate change mitigation activities. Drawing upon a survey of 682 Australian employers and an analysis of 1280 enterprise agreements, we find strong associations between organisational activities for the reduction of carbon emissions and employee participation in motivating, developing and/or implementing these measures. Engagement with emissions reduction at the workplace level is more likely where employee participation has a substantive role involving deeper and wider influence in organisational decision-making. This is especially the case when a range of approaches, including collective bargaining through trade unions, are utilised. Reflecting extant research on employee participation, the present study confirms the importance of the concepts of depth and scope in evaluating the extent to which employee participation is substantive, and that different forms of participation have mutually reinforcing impacts over workplace decisions to reduce carbon emissions. The findings presented suggest that the form of participation may be less important than the way in which it is implemented and the degree of substantive influence which employees have in practice.