Wage policy, regulation and social exchange
What is a company’s wage policy ? What is it used for ? More than just a simple means used by management to attract and mobilize its workforce, it is the regulation of exchanges between a firm and its salaried workers. This regulation is the process by which a firm defines the contents of the exchange and how it wants this exchange to evolve. Wage policy is developed within a process of collective steps during which wage principles are defined by the actors and given legitimacy. The aim of this article is to illustrate this process from observations recorded in several large firms, analysing how the exchange of work between a firm and its salaried workers transforms itself when going from wage policy founded on qualifications to that founded on competence. This generates modifications in the roles of individual and collective actors as well as in the respective weight of these actors in the regulation process. Without eliminating the role of the branch of activity, these new policies help give greater autonomy to firms.