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Workers’ Participation in Management

• According Keith Davis Participation refers to

“the mental and emotional involvement of a
person in a group situation which encourages
him to contribute to group goals and share the
responsibility of achieving them”
• It is a process by which authority and
responsibility of managing industry are shared
with workers.
• In Yugoslavia it is called self-management
• In Germany it is known as Co-determination

In the words of Mehtras, “ the concept of participation as a
principle of democratic administration in an industry
implies a share by rank and file in the decision-making
process of an industrial organization through their
representatives at all the appropriate levels of management
in the entire range of managerial action”

There are two distinct groups of people in an
Managers performing managerial functions.
performing managerial functions
Workers performing operative functions the basic distinction
between those who occupy managerial positions and workers
is that managers are held responsible for the work of their
subordinates while workers are accountable only for their
own work.
workers are accountable only for their own work

Scope of Workers’ Participation in

1. Information Sharing. Share the information! That says it all. According to this
view, participation takes place when the management solicits the opinion of
workers before taking a decision. The management ultimately takes the decision.
Workers are given a say or an opportunity to influence decisions, they play a
passive role in the process of decision-making, but have no final say in the
2. Sharing Decision-Making. This school holds that participation of an individual in
something occurs when he actively takes part. The focus here is that there must
exist taking part actively. Workers sit with the representatives of management to
take important decisions particularly on matters affecting the workers. Workers
may be members of Works Committees, Joint Management Council, etc. along
with the representatives of management. The decisions are taken through mutual
discussions between the representatives of the workers and those of the
3. Self-control. The essential feature of self-control (or management) is that
management and workers are not visualised as two distinct groups but as active
members with equal voting rights. Participation in Yugoslavia is an example of

Objectives of Workers participation in
1. Economic 1. Democratic right to
objective influence the managerial
2. Raise worker’ level of
2. Social Objective motivation and
3.Cross-fertilisation and
speedy communication of
3. Psychological ideas
Objective 4.Foster better co-operation
between labour and

Significance of Workers Participation
• 1. Higher Productivity: The increased productivity is possible only when there
exists fullest co-operation between labour and management. It has been found that
poor labour management relations do not encourage the workers to contribute
anything more than the minimum desirable to retain their jobs. Thus participation of
workers in management is essential to increase industrial productivity.
• 2. Greater Commitment: An important prerequisite for forging greater individual
commitment is the individual’s involvement and opportunity to express himself.
Participation allows individuals to express themselves at the work place rather than
being absorbed into a complex system of rules, procedures and systems. If an
individual knows that he can express his opinion and ideas, a personal sense of
gratification and involvement takes place within him. I am sure you will agree that
participation increases the level of commitment and the employees start relating to
the organisation.
• 3. Reduced Industrial Unrest. Industrial conflict is a struggle between two
organised groups, which are motivated by the belief that their respective interests
are endangered by the self-interested behaviour of the other. Participation cuts at
the very root of industrial conflict. It tries to remove or at least minimise the diverse
and conflicting interests between the parties, by substituting it with cooperation,
homogeneity and common interests. Both sides are integrated and decision arrived
at are mutual rather than individual.

Significance of Workers Participation
• 4. Improved Decisions. communication is never a one way process, Also note
that it is seldom, if ever, possible for managers to have knowledge of all
alternatives and all consequences related to the decisions which they must
make. Because of the existence of barriers to the upward flow of information in
most enterprises, much valuable information possessed by subordinates never
reaches their managers. Participation tends to break down the barriers, and
makes the information available to managers. To the extent such information
alters the decisions, the quality of decisions is improved.

• 5. Human Resource Development. Participation provides education to workers

in the management of industry. It fosters initiative and creativity among them. It
develops a sense of responsibility. Informal leaders get an opportunity to
reinforce their position and status by playing an active role in decision-making
and by inducing the members of the group to abide by them.

• 6. Reduced Resistance to Change. Last but not the least, it should be noted
that changes are arbitrarily introduced from above without explanation.
Subordinates tend to feel insecure and take counter measures aimed at
sabotage of changes. But when they have participated in the decision making
process, they have had an opportunity to be heard. They know what to expect
and why. Their resistance to change is reduced.

Pre–requisites for the success of
Workers’ Participation in Management
I. The overall climate in the organisation should be favourable to workers’
participation. There should be an attitude of mutual co-operation,
confidence, and respect for each other. Management, in particular, should
be genuinely receptive to the labour’s ideas so that the latter can perceive
that their ideas are useful.
II. There must be sufficient time to participate before action is required;
because participation in emergent situations is hardly advisable.
III. The subject of participation must be relevant to the enterprise; it must
concern something in which both the parties are interested, otherwise the
parties are likely to become indifferent to the process of participation.
IV. The workers’ representatives should have the ability such as intelligence
and knowledge, to participate. It is not appropriate to ask workers to
participate in technical aspects of the machinery; but they can participate
successfully in problems relating to their work. The contributions made by
the workers should be worthwhile and should benefit the workers in the
long run. It should be in the interest of the management as well! Now
maintaining that balance is not that easy but that is what experience is all

Pre–requisites for the success of
Workers’ Participation in Management
V. There must be effective system of communication. Both labour’s representatives and
management’s representatives must be able to understand each other and express
themselves without any inhibitions. The whole idea after all is to be able to speak out
one’s mind and listen to the counterpart’s point of view!
VI. Participation should not adversely affect the status or authority of the participants.
Managers will not participate, if their authority is threatened. Workers will hesitate in
participating if they think that their status is being adversely affected. In fact for worker’s
participation to be effective, both the management and the labour should get rid of their
ego problems and share their ideas. I am sure that you will agree that no relationship
can continue for long if there are ego clashes. Both the parties should make efforts to
come closer rather than moving away.
VII. The financial cost of participation should always be lesser than the benefits-both
economic and non-economic-of participation. We all can understand the economic
aspect but as far as the non-economic part is concerned, it will depend on the
organisations. What I can tell you at this point of time is that the pains and pleasures
should be matched! The pleasures should be much more as compared to the pains.

VIII. Participation should be within the framework of overall policy of the enterprise in
question .I am sure you will agree that every decision has to be in line with the Vision
and Mission statements of the organisation.