This qualitative cross-cultural study explores and compares the meaning, enactment and context of participative management in five European countries. The study takes a holistic perspective and integrates the findings into existing research. Elements of the Grounded Theory method characterise the study’s methodological approach, which includes theme-focused interviews with managers from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Poland and Sweden. The results suggest distinct country-specific models of participative management. Decision type, time-related issues and conflict are the factors which most prominently influence the use of participation. The findings are further characterised by convergence as well as divergence among the five countries under study.