Workplace democracy
Workplace democracy is the application of democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in all its forms (including voting system
Voting system
A voting system or electoral system is a method by which voters make a choice between options, often in an election or on a policy referendum....

s, debate
Debate or debating is a method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion...

s, democratic structuring
Democratic structuring
The principles of democratic structuring were defined by Jo Freeman in "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", first delivered as a talk in 1970, later published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology in 1972. They were influential in power network theories, especially those challenging a single command...

, due process
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

, adversarial process
Adversarial process
An adversarial process is one that supports conflicting one-sided positions held by individuals, groups or entire societies, as inputs into the conflict resolution situation, typically with rewards for prevailing in the outcome...

, systems of appeal, and so on) to the workplace.

It usually involves or requires more use of lateral methods such as arbitration
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution , is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts, where the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons , by whose decision they agree to be bound...

 when workplace disputes arise.

Associated with ideologies

These methods are often seen as associated with trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

s or syndicalism
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

 (or more lately eco-syndicalism and eco-socialism
Eco-socialism, green socialism or socialist ecology is an ideology merging aspects of Marxism, socialism, green politics, ecology and alter-globalization...

), or anarcho-syndicalism
Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...


Most unions have democratic structures at least for selecting the leader, and sometimes these are seen as providing the only democratic aspects of work. However, unions are not everywhere, and not every workplace that lacks a union lacks democracy, and not every workplace that has a union necessarily has a democratic way to resolve disputes.

However, some unions have historically been more committed to it than others. The Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 pioneered the archetypal workplace democracy model, the , in which recallable delegates were elected by workers, and other norms of grassroots democracy
Grassroots democracy
Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organization's lowest geographic level of organization: principle of subsidiarity....

 were applied. This is still used in some organizations, notably Semco
Ricardo Semler
Ricardo Semler is the CEO and majority owner of Semco SA, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering. Under his ownership, revenue has grown from US$4 million in 1982 to US$212 million in 2003 and his innovative business management...

 and in the software industry.

The best known and most studied example of a successfully democratic national labor union in the United States are the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America
The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America , is an independent democratic rank-and-file labor union representing workers in both the private and public sectors across the United States....

, known throughout the labor movement as the UE. An independent trade Union, the UE was built from the bottom-up, and takes pride in its motto that "The Members Run This Union!".

The Binary Economics
Binary Economics
Binary economics is a heterodox theory of economics that endorses both private property and a free market but proposes significant reforms to the banking system. The aim of binary economics is to ensure that all individuals receive income from their own independent capital estate, using...

 movement also advocates workplace democracy and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which is a method by which workers can buy their way into their corporations.

Studies by management science

Industrial and organizational psychology
Industrial and organizational psychology
Industrial and organizational psychology is the scientific study of employees, workplaces, and organizations. Industrial and organizational psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance and well-being of its people...

 and even more formal management science has studied the
methods of workplace democracy. They are just that - methods - and do not imply any particular political movement
Political movement
A political movement is a social movement in the area of politics. A political movement may be organized around a single issue or set of issues, or around a set of shared concerns of a social group...

, agenda, theory, or ideology: There are many management science papers on the application of democratic structuring
Democratic structuring
The principles of democratic structuring were defined by Jo Freeman in "The Tyranny of Structurelessness", first delivered as a talk in 1970, later published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology in 1972. They were influential in power network theories, especially those challenging a single command...

, in particular, to the workplace, and the benefits of it. Such benefits are usually compared to simple command hierarchy
Command hierarchy
A command hierarchy is a group of people committed to carrying out orders "from the top", that is, of authority. It is part of a power structure: usually seen as the most vulnerable and also the most powerful part of it.-Sociology:...

 arrangements in which "the boss" can hire anyone and fire anyone, and takes absolute and total responsibility for his own well-being and also all that occurs "under" him. The command hierarchy is a preferred management style followed in many companies for its simplicity, speed and low process overheads.

Early theory

20th century pioneers of workplace democracy include the early Belgian advocates of syndicalism
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...

 who argued that workers had more knowledge but less control of the workplace than they had of major political decisions (where they at least had a vote and the right to be heard even if they knew nothing about the situation). Of these theorists the most influential, de Paepe, is often considered as a peer or competitor to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's concept of the workplace as merely a cauldron and test for the proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...


Relation to political theory

However, workplace democracy theory closely follows political democracy, especially where businesses are large or politics is small:

Spanish anarchists, Mohandas Gandhi's Swadeshi movement, farm and retail co-operative movements, all made contributions to the theory and practice of workplace democracy and often carried that into the political arena as a "more participatory democracy
Participatory democracy
Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

." The Green Parties worldwide adopted this as one of their Four Pillars
Four Pillars of the Green Party
The Four Pillars of the Green Party are a foundational statement of Green politics and form the basis of many worldwide Green parties. The Four Pillars are:* Ecological wisdom* Social justice* Grassroots democracy* Nonviolence...

 and also often mimic workplace democracy norms such as gender equity, co-leadership, deliberative democracy
Deliberative democracy
Deliberative democracy is a form of democracy in which public deliberation is central to legitimate lawmaking. It adopts elements of both consensus decision-making and majority rule. Deliberative democracy differs from traditional democratic theory in that authentic deliberation, not mere...

 applied to any major decision, and leaders who don't do policy. The Democratic Socialist Parties have always supported the notion of workplace democracy and democratically controlled institutions.

In Sweden, the Social democratic Party made laws and reforms from 1950-70 to achieve more democratic workplaces. Giving the unions a right to
balance the management and have some influential power was rather radical at that time, but still within the capitalist structure as their influence was limited.

Politically, Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

 inspired a large number of such experiments in Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 before his death on September 11, 1973. The book Brain of the Firm by Stafford Beer details experiments in workplace feedback that exploited systems theory
Systems theory
Systems theory is the transdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research...


Limits of management

Many organizations began by the 1960s to realize that tight control by too few people was creating groupthink
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people. It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without...

, turnover
Turnover (employment)
In a human resources context, turnover or staff turnover or labour turnover is the rate at which an employer gains and loses employees. Simple ways to describe it are "how long employees tend to stay" or "the rate of traffic through the revolving door." Turnover is measured for individual companies...

 in staff and a loss of morale
Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal, or even in oneself and others...

 among qualified people helpless to appeal what they saw as misguided, uninformed, or poorly thought out decisions. Often employees who publicly criticise such poor decision making of their higher management are penalized or even fired from their jobs on some false pretext or other. The comic strip Dilbert
Dilbert is an American comic strip written and drawn by Scott Adams. First published on April 16, 1989, Dilbert is known for its satirical office humor about a white-collar, micromanaged office featuring the engineer Dilbert as the title character...

 has become popular satirizing this type of oblivious management
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

, the icon for which is the Pointy Haired Boss, a nameless and clueless social climber. The Dilbert Principle
The Dilbert Principle
The Dilbert principle refers to a 1990s satirical observation by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams stating that companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to management , in order to limit the amount of damage they are capable of doing...

 has been accepted as fact by some.

Much management philosophy has focused on trying to limit manager power, differentiate leadership versus management, and so on. Henry Mintzberg
Henry Mintzberg
Professor Henry Mintzberg, is an internationally renowned academic and author on business and management. He is currently the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he has been teaching since...

, Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an influential writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist.”-Introduction:...

 and Donella Meadows
Donella Meadows
Donella H. "Dana" Meadows was a pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher and writer. She is best known as lead author of the influential book The Limits to Growth, which made headlines around the world.- Life :Born in Elgin, Illinois, Meadows was educated in science, receiving a B.A...

 were three very notable theorists addressing these concerns in the 1980s. Mintzberg and Drucker studied how executives spent their time, Meadows how change and leverage to resist it existed at all levels in all kinds of organizations.

Adhocracy is a type of organization that operates in opposite fashion to a bureaucracy. The term was first popularized in 1970 by Alvin Toffler, and has since become often used in the theory of management of organizations , further developed by academics such as Henry Mintzberg.- Etymology :The...

, functional leadership model
Functional leadership model
In the functional leadership model, one conceives of leadership not as a person but rather as a set of behaviors that help a group perform their task or reach their goal...

s, and reengineering
Business process reengineering
Business process re-engineering is the analysis and design of workflows and processes within an organization.According to Davenport a business process is a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome....

 were all attempts to detect and
remove administrative incompetence. Business process
Business process
A business process or business method is a collection of related, structured activities or tasks that produce a specific service or product for a particular customer or customers...

 and quality management
Quality management
The term Quality management has a specific meaning within many business sectors. This specific definition, which does not aim to assure 'good quality' by the more general definition , can be considered to have four main components: quality planning, quality control, quality assurance and quality...

 methods in
general remove managerial flexibility that is often perceived as masking managerial mistakes, but
also preventing transparency
Transparency (humanities)
Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed...

 and facilitating fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

, as in the case of Enron
Enron Corporation was an American energy, commodities, and services company based in Houston, Texas. Before its bankruptcy on December 2, 2001, Enron employed approximately 22,000 staff and was one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, communications, and pulp and paper companies, with...

. Had managers
been more accountable to employees, it is argued, owners and employees would not have been defrauded.

Influenced matrix management

Managerial grid model
Managerial grid model
The managerial grid model is a behavioral leadership model developed by Robert R. Blake and Jane Mouton. This model originally identified five different leadership styles based on the concern for people and the concern for production. The optimal leadership style in this model is based on Theory...

s and matrix management
Matrix management
Matrix management is a type of organizational management in which people with similar skills are pooled for work assignments. For example, all engineers may be in one engineering department and report to an engineering manager, but these same engineers may be assigned to different projects and...

, compromises between true
workplace democracy and conventional top-down hierarchy, became common in the 1990s.
These models cross responsibilities so that no one manager had total control of any one
employee, or so that technical and marketing management were not subordinated to each other but had to argue out their concerns more mutually. A consequence of this was the rise of learning organization
Learning organization
A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing modern organizations and enables them to remain competitive in the business environment...

 theory, in which the ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

 of definitions in common among all factions or professions becomes the main management problem.

London Business School
London Business School
London Business School is an international business school and a constituent college of the federal University of London, located in central London, beside Regent's Park...

 chief Nigel Nicholson in his 1998 Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review is a general management magazine published since 1922 by Harvard Business School Publishing, owned by the Harvard Business School. A monthly research-based magazine written for business practitioners, it claims a high ranking business readership among academics, executives,...

paper How Hardwired is Human Behavior? suggested that human nature
Human nature
Human nature refers to the distinguishing characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling and acting, that humans tend to have naturally....

 was just as likely to cause problems in the workplace as in larger social and political settings, and that similar methods were required to deal with stressful situations and difficult problems. He held up the workplace democracy model advanced by Ricardo Semler
Ricardo Semler
Ricardo Semler is the CEO and majority owner of Semco SA, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering. Under his ownership, revenue has grown from US$4 million in 1982 to US$212 million in 2003 and his innovative business management...

 as the "only" one that actually took cognizance of human foibles.

Semler and Semco

Ricardo Semler
Ricardo Semler is the CEO and majority owner of Semco SA, a Brazilian company best known for its radical form of industrial democracy and corporate re-engineering. Under his ownership, revenue has grown from US$4 million in 1982 to US$212 million in 2003 and his innovative business management...

, in his own book Maverick, explained how he took his family firm in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, a light manufacturing concern called Semco, and transformed it into a strictly democratic firm where managers
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 were interviewed and then elected by workers, where all decisions were subject to democratic review, debate and vote, and where every worker was expected to justify themselves to their peers. This radical approach to total quality management
Total Quality Management
Total quality management or TQM is an integrative philosophy of management for continuously improving the quality of products and processes....

 got him and the company a great deal of attention. Semler argued that handing the company over to the workers was the only way to free time for himself to go build up the customer
A customer is usually used to refer to a current or potential buyer or user of the products of an individual or organization, called the supplier, seller, or vendor. This is typically through purchasing or renting goods or services...

, government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and other relationships required to make the company grow. By literally giving up the fight to hold any control of internals, Semler was able to focus on marketing, positioning, and offer his advice (as a paid, elected, spokesman, though his position as major shareholder was not so negotiable) as if he were, effectively, an outside management consultant. Decentralisation
Décentralisation is a french word for both a policy concept in French politics from 1968-1990, and a term employed to describe the results of observations of the evolution of spatial economic and institutional organization of France....

 of management functions, he claimed, gave him a combination of insider information and outsider credibility, plus the legitimacy of truly speaking for his workers in the same sense as an elected political leader.

The book ends with twenty pages of cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

s that constitute Semco's only employee manual. They explain such things as the company's attitudes to women and their advancement, managers and their role, sales and operations, technology, and read somewhat like the rationale of a nonprofit or political party.

Nicholson's analysis was more academic and conventional and focused on many other detailed problems of human behaviour and dispute resolution
Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties.-Methods:Methods of dispute resolution include:* lawsuits * arbitration* collaborative law* mediation* conciliation* many types of negotiation* facilitation...

, which he claimed Semler had resolved.


Venezuela has instituted worker-run "co-management" initiatives in which workers' council
Workers' council
A workers' council, or revolutionary councils, is the phenomenon where a single place of work or enterprise, such as a factory, school, or farm, is controlled collectively by the workers of that workplace, through the core principle of temporary and instantly revocable delegates.In a system with...

s are the cornerstone of the management of a plant or factory. In experimental co-managed enterprises, such as the state-owned Alcasa
C.V.G. Aluminio del Caroní S.A., known as Alcasa, is a state-owned aluminium producer in Venezuela. Founded in 1960, it began operations in 1967. It is part of the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana mining company, and one of the world's largest aluminium producers. In 1999 it had around 9000...

 factory, workers develop budgets and elect both managers and departmental delegates who work together with strategists on technical issues related to production.

Comparison to Taylorism

A more political approach to workplace reforms was advocated in Closing The Iron Cage: The Scientific Management of Work and Leisure by Canadian sociologist Ed Andrew based on Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

's notion "that the spirit of capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 envelopes our activities like an iron cage, that the ubiquitous structure of technical rationality appears as an iron cage to those who live in it."

Andrew critiques Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He is regarded as the father of scientific management and was one of the first management consultants...

 and so-called Taylorism that has grown up - beyond the limits that Taylor himself would have advocated - to become a "scientific management of leisure."

Andrew asks provocative questions such as:
  • Are work and leisure mutually exclusive spheres?
  • Can individuals condemned to alienating "scientifically managed" work environments ever really function as free players in their "free" time?

Andrew argues that both the political left
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 and the right
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 accept the thesis of "leisure-as-compensation" and that most issues between unions and "management" are too narrowly framed. Andrew in particular believes that scientifically managed leisure is "the closing of an iron cage of technological rationality" on all human life. In other words, a technological escalation
Technological escalation
Technological escalation describes the situation where two parties in competition tend to employ continual technological improvements in their attempt to defeat each other. Technology is defined here as a creative invention, either in the form of an object or a methodology...

 not just in the workplace but also imposed by the need to use communications, transport, and other technologies to get to work, learn, do the work itself, and justify the work afterwards. New technologies take time to learn and to use, and that time is taken away from either real work, or leisure.

The growth of scientific management
Scientific management
Scientific management, also called Taylorism, was a theory of management that analyzed and synthesized workflows. Its main objective was improving economic efficiency, especially labor productivity. It was one of the earliest attempts to apply science to the engineering of processes and to management...

 in the industrial work force, and the consequences of that growth for how workers spend their leisure time, according to Andrew, combine to create a false idea of workplace efficiency. His critique is similar to that used to justify throughput accounting
Throughput accounting
Throughput Accounting is a principle-based and comprehensive management accounting approach that provides managers with decision support information for enterprise profitability improvement. TA is relatively new in management accounting...

: overfocus on human labour is counter-productive since more and more minute divisions of labour deny workers' intelligence and creativity at work, destroys their ability to enjoy their time away from work, and puts them always at risk of losing opportunities simply for experimenting, thinking or dreaming on the job. An undemocratic workplace cannot be substituted by "more, and more enjoyable, leisure" if "boring and denigrating work" that alienates the individual - a key concern of Marx's sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 - remains the daily norm.

He counters pseudo-"conservative claims by efficiency experts that productivity is greatest when individual initiative is minimized" which is exactly the opposite of the ideal preached for entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is the act of being an entrepreneur, which can be defined as "one who undertakes innovations, finance and business acumen in an effort to transform innovations into economic goods". This may result in new organizations or may be part of revitalizing mature organizations in response...


He presents his own model, worker self-management, which he claims "would give all workers the same ability to create their jobs and to mingle leisure and work", as a radical alternative to both scientific management and technocratic socialism. His economic and organizational framework he intends to provide a unity of meaningful work and leisure.

His model parallels that of Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen, CH is an Indian economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory, and for his interest in the problems of society's poorest members...

 who argued in his 1999 Development as Freedom
Development as Freedom
Development as Freedom is a book focused on international development written by economist Amartya Sen.-Background:Amartya Sen posits that all individuals are endowed with a certain set of capabilities while it is simply a matter of realising these capabilities that will allow a person to escape...

 that the goal of all sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

 must be the freeing of human time. But while Sen addresses the interface between the workplace and leisure-place, Andrew addresses freedom within the workplace.

Many of Andrew's ideas were echoed by companies during the dotcom boom during which many experiments in combining work and leisure were launched, but mostly applied only to higher level creative workers such as software developer
Software developer
A software developer is a person concerned with facets of the software development process. Their work includes researching, designing, developing, and testing software. A software developer may take part in design, computer programming, or software project management...

s, not to people doing more routine work.

Advantages and disadvantages

Workplace democracy is too complex to offer more than a general overview of its advantages and its
disadvantages in this article. Two obvious differences are that lockout
Lockout (industry)
A lockout is a work stoppage in which an employer prevents employees from working. This is different from a strike, in which employees refuse to work.- Causes :...

s can't happen without
the support of the majority of the workers, and strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

s will not be motivated by lack of control
over who manages.

Centralisation, or centralization , is the process by which the activities of an organisation, particularly those regarding planning and decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group....

 and change management
Change management
Change management is a structured approach to shifting/transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. It is an organizational process aimed at helping employees to accept and embrace changes in their current business environment....

 take place only by request: work teams and units must
retain at least the power to resist changes and centralization of work functions they have performed.
Presumably, though, any private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

 work team recognizes legitimate arguments to centralize or

Individual career development

Employee development, job enrichment
Job enrichment
Job enrichment is an attempt to motivate employees by giving them the opportunity to use the range of their abilities. It is an idea that was developed by the American psychologist Frederick Hertzberg in the 1950s. It can be contrasted to job enlargement which simply increases the number of tasks...

, job rotation
Job rotation
-Introduction:Job rotation is a management technique that assigns trainees to various jobs and departments over a period of a few years. Surveys show that an increasing number of companies are using job rotation to train employees...

 can be arranged ad hoc
Ad hoc
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. Compare A priori....

 by the
work team itself to suit its own schedule. Job sharing
Job sharing
Job sharing is an employment arrangement where typically two people are retained on a part-time or reduced-time basis to perform a job normally fulfilled by one person working full-time. Compensation is apportioned between the workers, thus leading to a net reduction in per-employee income...

 is also possible and desirable if a
worker wants time off and another is in a position to do overtime
Overtime is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. Normal hours may be determined in several ways:*by custom ,*by practices of a given trade or profession,*by legislation,...

, without the concern that
this will set a precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

 for management abuses or job losses.

Succession planning
Succession planning
Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become...

 is everyone's problem: senior management
Senior management
Senior management, executive management, or management team is generally a team of individuals at the highest level of organizational management who have the day-to-day responsibilities of managing a company or corporation, they hold specific executive powers conferred onto them with and by...

 will be replaced by whoever
is elected to replace them. Mentoring
Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person....

 specific people to do those jobs may be more risky, as
management development
Management Development
Management Development is best described as the process from which managers learn and improve their skills not only to benefit themselves but also their employing organizations....

 is uncertain: a highly effective manager
Management effectiveness
In the management, the ultimate measure of management's performance is the metric of management effectiveness which includes:* Conflict management, or how well management is able to utilize confrontation and collaboration skills; management's ability to be flexible and appeal to common interests.*...

who is disliked can simply fail to achieve the position that they have been groomed for. This is
also true in representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

, where "groomed" leaders can fail to win an election or
lose their party's support. But in organizations there is less talent ultimately to choose from,
and losing people is more serious, especially if leadership development
Leadership development
Leadership development refers to any activity that enhances the quality of leadership within an individual or organization. These activities have ranged from MBA style programs offered at university business schools to action learning, high-ropes courses and executive retreats.- Developing...

 is more certain elsewhere.

Organizational structure and management

Office politics
Office politics
Workplace politics, sometimes referred to as Office politics is "the use of one's individual or assigned power within an employing organization for the purpose of obtaining advantages beyond one's legitimate authority...

 in such an environment can be extreme: people might devote a lot of time
to keeping their colleagues satisfied and supporting them socially and politically, and there
is less surety of success. Performance appraisal
Performance appraisal
A performance appraisal, employee appraisal, performance review, or development discussion is a method by which the job performance of an employee is evaluated typically by the corresponding manager or supervisor. A performance appraisal is a part of guiding and managing career development...

s in particular is extremely sensitive,
as it's conducted by peers. Meeting
In a meeting, two or more people come together to discuss one or more topics, often in a formal setting.- Definitions :An act or process of coming together as an assembly for a common purpose....

s and meeting system
Meeting system
A meeting system is any systemic means of improving meetings, workshops or conferences. They are particularly important in consensus decision making and deliberative democracy, but they have always been recognized as important to judicial procedure and parliamentary procedure, down to the level of...

s must generally be extremely
efficient, and require strong models of chairmanship and sophisticated models of how to handle
consent and dissent
Dissent is a sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or an entity...

. Open-space meeting
Open-space meeting
The open-space meeting or open space meeting is a generic term describing a wide variety of different styles of meeting in which participants define the agenda with a relatively rigorous process, and may adjust it as the meeting proceeds...

s and wiki
A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include...

 methods to define their agendas
have been used by some organizations, notably political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 and management consultant
organizations. One example is the Living Agenda pioneered by Canadian political parties.

Organizational commitment
Organizational commitment
Organizational commitment in the fields of Organizational Behavior and Industrial/Organizational Psychology is, in a general sense, the employee's psychological attachment to the organization...

 cannot be promised without extreme consultation. This may be an edge,
in some industries, but it certainly takes longer. Organizational development, metrics for same
Organizational performance
Organizational performance comprises the actual output or results of an organization as measured against its intended outputs .According to Richard et al...

, changes in the
Organizational structure
An organizational structure consists of activities such as task allocation, coordination and supervision, which are directed towards the achievement of organizational aims. It can also be considered as the viewing glass or perspective through which individuals see their organization and its...

 also take longer to negotiate. Organizational culture
Organizational culture
Organizational culture is defined as “A pattern of shared basic assumptions invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration" that have worked well enough to be considered valid and therefore, to be taught to...

however be generally more accepting of organizational learning
Organizational learning
Organizational learning is an area of knowledge within organizational theory that studies models and theories about the way an organization learns and adapts....

 and peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 of performance
Organizational performance
Organizational performance comprises the actual output or results of an organization as measured against its intended outputs .According to Richard et al...


Performance improvement
Performance improvement
Performance improvement is the concept of measuring the output of a particular process or procedure, then modifying the process or procedure to increase the output, increase efficiency, or increase the effectiveness of the process or procedure...

, self-assessment
In social psychology, self-assessment is the process of looking at oneself in order to assess aspects that are important to one's identity. It is one of the motives that drive self-evaluation, along with self-verification and self-enhancement...

 and coping with one's own resistance to change is
easier if the rate of change or depth of assessment is negotiated with one's peers who must deal with
the same changes and challenges. However, this is not to say those skills always apply in management:
Peter principle
Peter Principle
The Peter Principle states that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence", meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J...

 applies if anything faster: people who are perceived as effective are elected to
run things, which they promptly fail at. However, there is much more acceptance of returning to the
shop as a worker if someone fails at management, which is much more difficult in organizations
where there is a culture gap between managers and workers. Process improvement
Process improvement
In organizational development , process improvement is a series of actions taken by a process owner to identify, analyze and improve existing business processes within an organization to meet new goals and objectives. These actions often follow a specific methodology or strategy to create...

 is often thought
to be facilitated by such swaps, e.g. the CBC
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

 television show Venture runs a regular series
called Back to the Floor
Back to the Floor (Canadian TV series)
Back to the Floor is a corporate reality show that began as a regular feature on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's show Venture.Chief Executive Officers and a low level employee change jobs for a week...

, a corporate reality show where Chief Executive Officer
Chief executive officer
A chief executive officer , managing director , Executive Director for non-profit organizations, or chief executive is the highest-ranking corporate officer or administrator in charge of total management of an organization...

s and a
low level employee change jobs for a week. Process management
Process management
Process management is the ensemble of activities of planning and monitoring the performance of a process. The term usually refers to the management of business processes and manufacturing processes...

 is usually reported as benefiting
from the direct attention of the CEO, and professional development
Professional development
Professional development refers to skills and knowledge attained for both personal development and career advancement. Professional development encompasses all types of facilitated learning opportunities, ranging from college degrees to formal coursework, conferences and informal learning...

 of the lower level employee is
also facilitated, as they discover whether they feel fit to take leadership or not.

According to proponents, Servant leadership
Servant leadership
Servant leadership is a philosophy and practice of leadership, coined and defined by Robert K. Greenleaf and supported by many leadership and management writers such as James Autry, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Peter Block, Peter Senge, Max DePree, Scott Greenberg, Larry Spears, Margaret...

 is inevitable: leaders who do not serve are simply voted out of the job.

Teams, talent and careers

Talent identification and management take place at the same time, on the shop floor where it
is easy to assess competence. Team building
Team building
Team building refers to a wide range of activities, presented to businesses, schools, sports teams, religious or nonprofit organizations designed for improving team performance...

 and management
Team management
Team management refers to techniques, processes and tools for organizing and coordinating a group of individuals working towards a common goal—i.e. a team.Several well-known approaches to team management have come out of academic work...

 rely on the
same interpersonal relationships as did hiring. Termination of employment
Termination of employment
-Involuntary termination:Involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. There are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." To be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's...

 is also by the
same people. This is a simple, perhaps even tribal
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

, model of how human teams must work.
Work stoppages are common but very short in such an environment, due mostly to interpersonal
problems that are soon worked out, because the team has the power to resolve the issue itself.

Unfair dismissal
Unfair dismissal
Unfair dismissal is the term used in UK labour law to describe an employer's action when terminating an employee's employment contrary to the requirements of the Employment Rights Act 1996...

 claims are impeded because any firing is due to losing the support of one's
fellow team members and the faith of the social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 of one's peers on the shop floor
Shop floor
--The Shop floor literally is the floor of a factory where people work on machines, or the space in a retail establishment where goods are sold to customers...

In any jurisdiction, this is a legitimate criteria for dismissal, that one is not able to retain
the faith of one's colleagues.

"The co's" (Co-determination
Co-determination is a practice whereby the employees have a role in management of a company. The word is a literal translation from the German word Mitbestimmung. Co-determination rights are different in different legal environments. In some countries, like the USA, the workers have virtually no...

, co-operation, coaching, collaboration
Collaboration is working together to achieve a goal. It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, — for example, an intriguing endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing...

 and collective bargaining
Collective bargaining
Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

may be easier in environments where consensus
Consensus decision-making
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks the consent, not necessarily the agreement, of participants and the resolution of objections. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its...

 or consensus-seeking decision-making
Consensus-seeking decision-making
Consensus-seeking decision-making is a term sometimes used to describe a formal decision process similar to the consensus decision-making variant known as but with the additional option of a fallback voting procedure if consensus appears unattainable during the consensus-seeking phase of the...

is already practiced for the most important decisions: who leads. Consensus democracy
Consensus democracy
Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision-making to the process of legislation in a democracy. It is characterised by a decision-making structure which involves and takes into account as broad a range of opinions as possible, as opposed to systems where minority opinions can...

 methods already exist to
make very large scale decisions in social organizations.

See also

  • Common ownership
    Common ownership
    Common ownership is a principle according to which the assets of an enterprise or other organization are held indivisibly rather than in the names of the individual members or by a public institution such as a governmental body. It is therefore in contrast to public ownership...

  • Employee democracy
    Employee Democracy
    Employee democracy is a term initiated by Dean Adams Curtis to combine the concept of the employee-owned corporation with the ideas underpinning workplace democracy, industrial democracy, as well as worker self-management and the co-determination laws of countries like Germany.When a bipartisan...

  • Guild socialism
    Guild socialism
    Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds. It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. It was strongly associated with G. D. H...

  • Inclusive democracy
    Inclusive Democracy
    Inclusive Democracy is a political theory and political project that aims for direct democracy, economic democracy in a stateless, moneyless and marketless economy, self-management and ecological democracy...

  • Industrial democracy
    Industrial democracy
    Industrial democracy is an arrangement which involves workers making decisions, sharing responsibility and authority in the workplace. While in participative management organizational designs workers are listened to and take part in the decision-making process, in organizations employing industrial...

  • Workers' Control
    Workers' control
    Workers' control is a term meaning participation in the management of factories and other commercial enterprises by the people who work there. It has been variously advocated by anarchists, socialists, Communists, Social Democrats and Christian Democrats, and has been combined with various...

  • Responsible autonomy
    Responsible autonomy
    In the study of organizations and how they work, it is often suggested that there are only three ways of "getting things done": hierarchy, heterarchy and responsible autonomy...

  • Participatory democracy
    Participatory democracy
    Participatory Democracy, also known as Deliberative Democracy, Direct Democracy and Real Democracy , is a process where political decisions are made directly by regular people...

  • Edvard Kardelj
    Edvard Kardelj
    Edvard Kardelj also known under the pseudonyms Sperans and Krištof was a Yugoslav communist political leader, economist, partisan, publicist, and full member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts...

  • New Unionism
    New Unionism
    New Unionism is a term which has been used twice in the history of the labour movement, both times involving moves to broaden the trade union agenda.-1880s:First was the development within the British trade union movement in the late 1880s...

External links

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