industrial democracy


Also found in: Dictionary, Financial, Wikipedia.

industrial democracy

the participation of employees in the decision-making of a work organization. The participation may be total or shared with owner and managerial interests. Moreover, the decision-making may concern the organization as a whole, or only sub-groups within it. The main types are workers’ self-management (e.g. the former Yugoslavia), producer cooperatives (e.g. Mondragon in the Basque province of Spain), and codetermination (e.g. Germany). At the shop-floor (i.e. sub-group) level, the creation of autonomous work groups and quality of working life programmes are examples of industrial democracy of a partial kind (Poole, 1986).

The general concept of industrial democracy has been much criticized by both pluralist and Marxist writers. The pluralist argument is that participation in management dilutes trade unions’ ability to represent their members effectively in collective bargaining (Clegg, 1960). The pluralist critique amounts to an alternative definition of industrial democracy based upon opposition (through collective bargaining) rather than participation (see also COUNTERVAILING POWER, PLURALISM).

The Marxist criticism is that it is not possible within a capitalist society to incrementally gain workers’ control through employee participation in business enterprises (Hyman, 1984).

Historically, industrial democracy has its roots in French syndicalism which influenced early socialist thinking and trade unionism in the US and UK in the early decades of the 20th century. In the UK, the movement transmuted into guild socialism in the inter-war years (Pribicevic, 1959) and reappeared as a force in the 1960s largely as a consequence of the agitation of the Institute of Workers’ Control (Coates and Topham, 1972). This group was active in supporting the establishment of cooperatives and worker directors on the boards of nationalized industries. In the UK, however, the biggest impetus towards implementing industrial democracy on a wide scale came in the 1970s, with the publication of the draft Fifth Directive of the EEC Commission in 1972. The British government's response was to set up the Bullock Committee of Inquiry on Industrial Democracy. This committee's principal recommendation was that workers should be represented, via trade union channels, on all companies employing over 2,000 workers. The proposals, however, were almost wholly ignored as none of the interested parties (government, employers, trade unions) found the recommendations palatable to them. In the 1980s there was (managerial) interest in participation on management's terms (i.e. quality circles) and in some extension of ownership through share schemes.

References in periodicals archive ?
From the concept of "school shop" to broad education about the industrial democracy, industrial arts in the 1960s seems to have had its period in the educational sun.
Jon That's interesting because, although Labour during that period did have various green papers on industrial democracy, we went nowhere with them, partly because they challenged some of the basic assumptions about nationalisation and all sorts of other things.
So far, the historiography has read this event only in the context of the Cold War, but this point of view does not explain all those matters that persisted in the Italian Labor market: today's policies for productivity, the new collective bargaining reforms and the problems of industrial democracy are just some examples that demonstrate that at the end of the Cold War the same issues remained.
That the commission and report on industrial democracy in 1976-77, chaired by the historian Sir Alan Bullock, was eventually abandoned doesn't lessen its contemporary significance.
Yet Peter Hain reflects Welsh socialist tradition in espousing industrial democracy and his trade union work.
An industrial democracy, in Roosevelt's view, must spread power through public initiatives, propositions, referenda, and recalls.
Industrial democracy relies on a pluralist paradigm where thoughts and views of workers are constantly considered as important intellectual contributions filled with originality, rather than viewing them as only furthering ideological dogmas (Ackers 2007).
Their goal was industrial democracy, and as Adler writes,
"To cause men to live happily." Enthusiasts for industrial democracy will tell you that their system has created a wider, deeper, and more real happiness than was ever known on earth before.
Tyomkina (1993) suggests the following summary of areas of research: industrial democracy, workplace democracy, economic democracy, participatory democracy, participation in management, participation in industry, and organizational democracy.
In 1990, bargaining was centralised, with a general wage movement being determined by the State Services Commission, with NZNA negotiating on other significant issues, eg industrial democracy, flexible salary structures and job evaluation.
In these circumstances Unite are wholly justified that this is a judicial undermining of very clear industrial democracy. This is especially true given that this type of legal intervention is being used more and more frequently by employers who have failed to reach a negotiated settlement with their workforce in a clear move to undermine a fundamental human right; the right to strike.

Full browser ?