Many people view democracy solely through the lens of political institutions and governance structures and processes. They often do not consider the application of democratic principles and processes within the workplace to be relevant or feasible. Given various factors, public and private work environments within a democratic society may not be democratic in nature. Workers may have limited participatory involvement and may not have the opportunity to engage in their workplace through the decision-making process. Furthermore, hierarchical structures with clearly defined rules determine control and the placement of power. Challenging such a structure to enable bottom-up participation or to protect the needs of underrepresented groups can be difficult given the prevailing organizational policies and culture. Democracy, as it is applied in the workplace, may offer a different and even, some may argue, beneficial type of workplace experience. However, while advantages to a democratic workplace culture can be experienced by employees and the organizational as a whole, certainly many challenges are also present.
For this week’s Discussion, you will examine the effectiveness and sustainability of a workplace governed by democratic principles and processes.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review the article “Workplace Democracy: Why Bother?” in this week’s Learning Resources. Consider the rationale for workplace democracy.
- Review the article “Evaluating Strategies for Negotiating Workers’ Rights in Transnational Corporations: The Effects of Codes of Conduct and Global Agreements on Workplace Democracy” in this week’s Learning Resources. Think about how workplace democracy can be effective in an organization.
- Review the lecture “Workplace Democracy and the Global Financial Crisis” in this week’s Learning Resources. Take note of arguments for and against the presence of workplace democracy in terms of economics.
- Identify democratic principles that might be present in a democratic workplace.
- Reflect on your workplace environment or one with which you are familiar and think about the degree to which democracy is present in the organization.
- Consider whether the organization would be more effective if it were more or less democratic.
- Reflect on whether democracy is a sustainable option for the contemporary workplace.
- Consider whether democracy in the workplace is actually an issue of democratic governance or it is a management style, possibly a variation of participative management.
With these thoughts in mind:
Write a brief description of your workplace or one with which you are familiar. Include an assessment of the degree to which democracy is present. Then, explain whether the organization would be more effective if it were more or less democratic and explain why. In your analysis, consider whether democracy is sustainable in the contemporary workplace and whether democracy in the workplace is a governance issue or a management issue.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources while adhering to APA style of reference.
- Foley, J. R., & Polanyi, M. (2006). Workplace democracy: Why bother? Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27(1) 173–191.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases
- Levine, D. P. (2003). The ideal of diversity in organizations. The American Review of Public Administration, 33(3), 278–294.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
- Egels-Zanden, N., & Hyllman, P. (2007). Evaluating strategies for negotiating workers’ rights in transnational corporations: The effects of codes of conduct and global agreements on workplace democracy. Journal of Business Ethics. 76(2), 207–223.
Retrieved from Walden Library databases.
- Groeneveld, S., & Van de Walle, S. (2010). A contingency approach to representative bureaucracy: Power, equal opportunities and diversity. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 76(2), 239–258.
Retrieved from Walden Library databases.
- Lansbury, R. (2009). Workplace democracy and the global financial crisis. Retrieved fromhttp://sydney.edu.au/business/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/18772/Laffer_Memorial_Lecture_160309.pdf
- Laureate Education (Producer). (2014c). Democracy in the workplace [Audio file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
In this media piece, a subject-matter expert provides practical, real scenarios in which democracy expresses itself in the workplace.
- Miller, M. G. (1937). The democratic theory of cooperation. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 191(1), 29–37.
- Rich, W. C. (1998). Spontaneous talk, linguistic capital, and diversity: Communication in knowledge-based organizations. Administration and Society, 30(3), 316–330.
- Zirakzadeh, C. E. (1990). Theorizing about workplace democracy: Robert Dahl and the cooperatives of Mondragón. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2(1), 109–126.
- Laureate Education (Producer). (2009a). Commencement address from Lilly Ledbetter [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 16 minutes. “Commencement Address from Lilly Ledbetter” Transcript (PDF)