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Workplace democracy

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Workplace democracy

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 23 Dec 2012, 20:12:18

Here is a topic that I hope will provoke some thought and discussion over the holidays. I have extracted some key excerpts from a wiki article on this topic to whet your appetite. I think it's relevant because decisions made in the workplace over the next few years/decades on energy, environment and the economy will determine our collective fate. Does workplace democracy offer a solution to these issues?

Workplace democracy

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.[1]

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
Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. H. G. Wells.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Fishman » Wed 26 Dec 2012, 14:06:59

Hilarious
Please give a real life example of any of this working.
I'll give several example that none of this works.
California, has sought to achieve most of the above, an economic cesspool.
PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) ditto
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby vision-master » Wed 26 Dec 2012, 14:17:58

Simply, take the boss by his shrit, drag him to the door, kick him in the arse out the door and tell him, don't ever come back........ lsol
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby pstarr » Wed 26 Dec 2012, 14:45:15

vision-master wrote:Simply, take the boss by his shrit, drag him to the door, kick him in the arse out the door and tell him, don't ever come back........ lsol
Ever read the "Lord of the Flies?" Another douchebag would just arise to take his place.

Fishman, do you have any idea where your food is grown? Or where your mind is?
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Fishman » Thu 27 Dec 2012, 20:30:56

Ah, pstarr, so all bosses are douchebags? I know you've left your mother's basement, but you seem to be suffering a persistent adolescence, seek help. Personally most of my food is grown in my backyard. If you mean California's food production, yes, California does persist in agrarian success, (till the water runs out) just failure at everything else.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Quinny » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 03:42:09

As usual a broad brush assertion that seems to be counted as an argument from the rabid right.

Which examples of worker democracy has caused California's problems?

What makes you say that workplace participation and democracy is higher in the PIIGS than say Germany or Scandinavia?

Any evidence or just blind prejudice?
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby radon » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 06:30:14

Back in late perestroika, in late 1980s - early 1990s under Gorbachev, they attempted to introduce CEO's elections by the workforce at the USSR enterprises. The results were disastrous. Even those enterprises that still worked stopped working. The elections were a competition in blind populism. In addition, they were a huge waste of productive time and incited many conflicts.

Why win via elections what one can win via career, and if unable to progress the career, why think that one can be a better manager if elected.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Ibon » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 08:00:14

Graeme wrote:Here is a topic that I hope will provoke some thought and discussion over the holidays.


Well? Great start everyone on your initial contributions to this thread. It would be sad if not for the irony when one takes a moment to reflect on the threads topic.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Pops » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 13:38:32

I'd like to think of myself as a Syndicalist but the thing always overlooked is the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Oligarchies always form, in any organization, worker syndicates are no different. Straw bosses become little dictators and eventually tyrants. The mere fact that they have nothing to gain monetarily only serves to make their tyranny random and pointless.

There are 2 kinds of motivations people have, one is money and one is risk. Some folks are really motivated to make a buck and if it is on the backs of others then so much the better - some people just want to make a paycheck. Likewise some are willing to take a risk while others just want the steady income.

Personally I'm not as motivated by money as I thought I was for a while. OTOH I'm willing to take a risk. I quit a pretty good job to "be my own boss" and although I made some pretty good money for a while it turned out the trade off was not enjoying the job. So I rearranged things so I'd need much less income, I can enjoy what I do and though there is still the now-familiar background worry about where the next job is coming from, I don't have to take any shit from anyone just for a steady check.


Point is, motivations are important. Some people just don't give a rip about how things are run as long as they get work and a paycheck while others don't give a rip about how the employees live as long as they make a buck. Most of the owners I've known are decent people but the majority begrudge every red cent that doesn't go into their pocket. By the same token, most of the workers I know don't care about the bosses profit or even whether cash flow is positive as long as the check doesn't bounce.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby MD » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 15:06:29

wow.

work or walk.

there's your workplace democracy.

a bunch of BS written by a bunch of academics, politicians, or bureaucrats who have never run a business.

nothing to see here. move along...
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Quinny » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 16:05:52

The ignorance of the replies astounds me. Not one contributor has comeup with a shred evidence against worker democracy/participation.

Interesting that co-operative's seem to be weathering current economic storm better than many other businesses.

Not that any of you rednecks could give a damn.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 16:22:37

Fishman wrote:Ah, pstarr, so all bosses are douchebags? I know you've left your mother's basement, but you seem to be suffering a persistent adolescence, seek help. Personally most of my food is grown in my backyard. If you mean California's food production, yes, California does persist in agrarian success, (till the water runs out) just failure at everything else.
"Most of your food?" I doubt it. Slaughter your own livestock? Huh? Grow your grains? I doubt it. Your Republicans are still in La la land. Are you ready for re-entry into the real world yet? Get out the tissue box, you are about to experience severe nose bleeds. Watch out for head-explode.

Virtually the entire California aqueduct system is gravity-fed from the high Sierra's and Coastal Range. We will feed you at our discretion. But I am running out of patience. :twisted:
Last edited by pstarr on Fri 28 Dec 2012, 16:25:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 16:24:29

MD wrote:wow.

work or walk.

there's your workplace democracy.

a bunch of BS written by a bunch of academics, politicians, or bureaucrats who have never run a business.

nothing to see here. move along...


This comment goes right to the crux of the matter. Are you willing to tell us whether decisions made in your company are made by you alone? Do you have a Board of Directors? Do you consult with your professional employees? Do your employees vote on the decisions made?
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Re: Workplace democracy

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 28 Dec 2012, 16:33:52

But back on topic; Kellogg Co. instituted a 6-hour work week during the 1930's. W.K. Kellogg, the company's owner cut the workday to six hours, while eliminating breaks and terminating bonuses for unpopular shift times. Workers were given a 12.5 percent hourly raise, so standard daily pay only fell by about fifteen percent.

Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt. Kellogg's Six-Hour Day. wrote:Many of them reminisce about how they used their new "free" time: visiting friends over beer or coffee, participating in amateur sports, hunting and fishing, doing family things together -- gardening, canning, school projects. In 1937, Kellogg's became unionized, W.K. Kellogg withdrew from an active role in the business, and a new management team arrived which was not committed to the 6-hour workday. As part of the contract negotiations, the union conducted a secret ballot election, in which two-thirds of workers registered their preference for the six-hour workday, with a few smaller departments opting to keep their eight-hour shifts.
It was a great success while it lasted. http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/whaples020410.html

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