Book Review: Participation and democracy at work: essays in honour of Harvie Ramsay

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Abstract

The academic study of forms of employee participation in workplace decision-making possesses a number of unusual (and unenviable) distinctions. There are few topics in the study of organisations and the workplace whose dominant scope has become so circumscribed and focus has changed so much over the past thirty years. In the UK, the discussions of the nineteen seventies about the prospects and potential of what was then normally termed 'industrial democracy' were framed in the context of the seeming economic success of continental models of corporate governance. However, the AngloAmerican managerialist ideological revolution of the nineteen eighties and thereafter rapidly swept this away and, under the influence of human resource management, the locus of debate shifted towards much more task-specific notions of 'worker participation' or even 'employee involvement'. The principal terminology of the subject has been peculiarly prone to confused or interchangeable use, but this cannot disguise an overall dilution of meaning. The idea that participation should consist of joint negotiation and agreement between workers or their representatives and management has diminished to the notion that managers consulting with, or providing information to, the workforce about the business is sufficient. 'Democracy' in the workplace became distorted to mean the limited voice of the suggestion scheme, the team briefing or the quality circle, devalued in much the same way as the political choices available to Western electorates have degraded to little more than a form of consumer democracy. B. Harley, J. Hyman and P. Thompson (eds.) Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (PB: pp. xiv + 257, £25.99, ISBN 1403900043
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-93
JournalEphemera: Theory & Politics in Organization
Volume6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

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