Workplace democracy is the application of democracy in all its forms (including voting systems, debates, democratic structuring, due process, adversarial process, systems of appeal) to the workplace.
It usually involves or requires more use of lateral methods such as arbitration when workplace disputes arise.
There are many management science papers on the application of democratic structuring, in particular, to the workplace, and the benefits of it. Such benefits are usually compared to simple command hierarchy 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.
Many organizations began by the 1960s to realize that tight control by too few people was creating groupthink, turnover in staff and a loss of morale 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.
Managerial grid models and matrix management, 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 theory, in which the ontology of definitions in common among all factions or professions becomes the main management problem.
London Business School chief Nigel Nicholson in his 1998 Harvard Business Review paper How Hardwired is Human Behavior? suggested that human nature 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 as the "only" one that actually took cognizance of human foibles.
Semler, in his own book Maverick, explained how he took his family firm in Brazil, a light manufacturing concern called Semco, and transformed it into a strictly democratic firm where managers 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 got him and the company a great deal of attention.
Andrew argues that both the political left and the right 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 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.
According to proponents, Servant leadership is inevitable: leaders who do not serve are simply voted out of the job.
Ten Ways to Democratize the Global Economy
Citizens can and should play an active role in shaping the future of our global economy. Here are some of the ways in which we can work together to reform global trade rules, demand that corporations are accountable to people's needs, build strong and free labor and promote fair and environmentally sustainable alternatives.
1. No Globalization without Representation
2. Mandate Corporate Accountability
3. Restructure the Global Financial Architecture
4. Cancel all Debt, End Structural Adjustment and Defend Economic Sovereignty
5. Prioritize Human Rights - Including Economic Rights - in Trade Agreements
6. Promote Sustainable Development - Not Consumption - as the Key to Progress
7. Integrate Womens' Needs in All Economic Restructuring
8. Build Free and Strong Labor Unions Internationally and Domestically
9. Develop Community Control Over Capital; Promote Socially Responsible Investment
10. Promote Fair Trade Not Free Trade