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Workplace Democracy

Workplace Democracy: An Inquiry into Employee Participation in Canadian Work Organizations

Foreword by Max B.E. Clarkson
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    Workplace Democracy
    Book Description:

    This book begins with a historical review of how authority in the Canadian workplace has changed over the past century. It proceeds to outline a theory of organization which provides a broad conceptual framework for the empirical analysis which follows.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2342-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Management & Organizational Behavior

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    This important book shows how ten different enterprises have responded to the challenge of introducing democratic principles into the decision-making processes of the workplace. The underlying assumption governing the different approaches in these organizations has been that workers have a moral right to participate in the decisions which affect them in their jobs, just as they have a moral right to participate in the political decision-making processes which affect them in their lives away from the workplace.

    Different processes, structures, and institutions have been developed in different democracies to enable citizens to participate in decision-making at various levels of government...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. 1 Workplace democracy: issues and challenges
    (pp. 3-18)

    There is a growing conviction among Canadian working people of every description and circumstance that something is wrong at the workplace. Despite substantial and continuing improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions, there is a widespread perception among Canadian working people that the work organization does not operate to their advantage.

    In the face of mounting employee alienation and labour unrest, there is a search – not only in this country, but across the industrialized world – for new and effective means of fulfilling employee expectations while enhancing the productive capability of the work organization. More than at any other...

  7. 2 Power and consent
    (pp. 19-34)

    ‘In the entire lexicon of sociological concepts none is more troublesome than the concept of power … we all know perfectly well what it is – until someone asks us.’¹ Although power has been a preoccupation of the disciplines of political science, law, philosophy, and sociology, few organizational theorists consider power as a central concept in their theories. There is not a single reference to power in the extensive index of Marvin Dunnette’s (1976) compendium,Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

    In this chapter the concepts ‘power,’ ‘authority,’ and ‘participation’ will be defined and their relationships with the concept ‘democracy’...

  8. 3 A historical perspective on authority in the workplace
    (pp. 35-55)

    Over this century the ideology underlying managerial authority has been substantially transformed. Early in the century management practice was justified by a Spencerian doctrine of natural superiority, while more recently, management practice is justified in terms of its stewardship of the resources of the organization and its role in accommodating the diverse interests of organizational stakeholders.

    This chapter will trace the evolution of ideology and practice over this century, with particular emphasis on ideological appeals directed towards subordinates for the purpose of securing their compliance with managerial directives. This analysis will show how deeply and significantly ideology affects (and is...

  9. 4 Congruence theory: a framework for the study of workplace democracy
    (pp. 56-76)

    The field of organizational studies is splintered by multiple and competing theories or ‘paradigms.’ This variety of theories is a natural result of the complexity of modern organizations. Organizations are diverse and complex mixtures of the rational and the irrational; they have legal, political, social, psychological, and technological dimensions which are not easily captured by any single theory of organization.

    Stogdill (1966) identifies no less than eighteen approaches to the study of organizations in the organizational theory literature. Organizations have been viewed as input-output systems, as collections of individual members, as summations of member characteristics, as subgroups in interaction, as...

  10. 5 The democratic and hierarchical workplaces compared
    (pp. 78-119)

    Research and theory on workplace democracy have been inspired by a vision of the workplace which allows self-determination, development of skills and abilities, and personal fulfilment in the broadest sense of the term. As compelling as this vision is, there is no systematic comparison – in any country – of democratic organizations with organizations of conventional hierarchical design.

    This study was undertaken to fill this void. The comparison of democratic and hierarchical organizations reported here is guided by the theory outlined in chapter 4. Each of the concepts of this theory – values, structure, processes, and outcomes – will be...

  11. 6 The nature of work in democratic and hierarchical workplaces
    (pp. 120-139)

    The importance of work in our lives is difficult to overestimate. More than any other activity, work provides an opportunity for fulfilling human needs for competence, mastery, and achievement. Whether rewarding or not, work remains a central preoccupation of most people. Studies of the unemployed¹ demonstrate the profound importance of work to our sense of well-being and to our mental health. Those without jobs (the young, the retired, the unemployed) often feel like outsiders and find it difficult to participate in the life of our society.

    In response to the now classic question posed by Nancy Morse and Robert Weiss...

  12. 7 Workplace democracy and trade unionism
    (pp. 140-154)

    The varieties of workplace democracy described in this study have been greeted with suspicion and outright hostility by most Canadian trade unionists. This response contrasts with the strong support given by most western European trade unionists to the co-determination and works councils forms of employee participation.

    The source of Canadian trade union opposition to workplace democracy is easily identified but less easily rectified. In Europe employee participation is generally viewed as strengthening collective bargaining, while in Canada participation is believed by many trade unionists to weaken collective bargaining. European collective bargaining is typically conducted at the national or industry level,...

  13. 8 Profit-sharing and employee ownership: the economic dimension of workplace democracy
    (pp. 155-172)

    Profit-sharing and employee ownership, like workplace democracy, have remained largely outside the mainstream of management practice in this country. The reason has less to do with objective evidence concerning the effectiveness of these programs than with prevailing management and trade union ideologies.

    Stock purchase, incentive, and bonus plans based on profits have long been considered effective means of motivating executives. However, these plans are not generally considered appropriate for production and clerical employees. There is a widespread belief among Canadian and American managers that employee motivation and commitment to the enterprise are purchased by the prevailing wage rate; furthermore, it...

  14. 9 Workplace democracy in perspective
    (pp. 173-194)

    Democratic workplaces have been shown to differ significantly from their hierarchically managed counterparts on the dimensions of values, structure, processes, and outcomes. The ten democratic organizations are found to fit the ‘democratic’ model of organization, and the ten hierarchical organizations are found to fit more closely the ‘hierarchical’ model of organization. The nature of work has been compared in democratic and hierarchical organizations and few differences have been found; the effects of work on employee well-being have been explored, and these effects – like the effects of workplace democracy – have been found to be significant and far-reaching. The relationship...

  15. APPENDIX I Forms of workplace democracy in Canada
    (pp. 197-249)
  16. APPENDIX II Methodology
    (pp. 250-255)
  17. APPENDIX III Research instruments and measures
    (pp. 256-284)
  18. References
    (pp. 285-300)
  19. Index
    (pp. 301-313)