Introduction Employee participation encompasses distributing influence to employees. However, employee participation can take many forms and employees may have different preferences for how to exert influence. E.g., the employee can desire to exert influence by him or her self, or alternatively desire to have influence together with their peers. This raises the question: What are the reasons behind the desire for individual or collective forms of influence at work? Social identification expresses how much the identity of a group affects a person’s attitudes and behaviour. We suggest social identification to be associated with the degree to which employees desire collective influence, rather than individual influence. The present study investigates this hypothesis. Methods Questionnaire data were collected from 166 Danish hospital employees. The overall response rate was 75,8%. The sample consisted of physicians (64% answered), medical secretaries (77% response rate) and nurses (78% responses). The scale by Cameron (2004) measuring social identification with the occupational group and with the department was applied. A variable, ‘preference for individual influence’, was computed as the number of work aspects, on which the respondent desired to have most influence by him or her self. The same procedure was applied for preferences for the occupational group as most influential and preferences for the employees as a collective to have most influence. We applied regression analyses to test the associations between social identification and preferences for influence. Results The results showed that social identification with the occupational group was negatively associated with preferences for individual influence (Beta=.21, p>0.05) and positively associated with preferences for employees as a collective to have most influence on work (Beta=.23, p<0.01). However, social identification with the department was not significantly associated with preferences for influence. Also, social identification was not significantly associated with preference for the occupational group to have most influence. Conclusions The significant associations are in accordance with the hypotheses: Higher social identification was associated with less individual preferences, but higher collective preferences. Thus, the findings may support the notion that social identification is one factor in employees’ preferences for influence forms. However, the results also show that not all forms of social identification and influence preferences were associated. The results may be specific to hospital contexts, where health care professions are pivotal in organizing and performing the work functions.
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XIVth European Congress of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2009