Essential Components in Workplace Democracy

Given the wide variety of attempts at workplace democracy, what could we learn if we were to examine a huge number of those concrete cases, and sought to find out why some democratized companies failed, while others succeeded? In particular, could we discover what was there in the internal functioning of worker-managed companies that led some to thrive over the long-term, while others failed (even though their external conditions such as market opportunities, financial support, etc. were favorable)?

Just such a large-scale research project is reported on in the following article by Dr. Paul Bernstein (Boston, USA) to download as pdf. Fifty cases of workplace democracy, drawn from 15 different countries and political systems, covering more than a century of experiences, were examined in depth. Detailed comparison of the variety of methods by which they democratically managed their firms revealed that five components were absolutely essential for meaningful participation in managerial-level decision-making by workers to succeed and become self-reinforcing over the long-term. The article identifies those essential components, shows the variety of forms they can take when successful, and explains how they need to function in order to persist in making possible a meaningful democratic life within worker-managed companies.

Full article to download as pdf.