Industrial Democracy & Participative Management

One of the important requirements of industrial relation is industrial democracy. Worker’s participation in management (WPM) is essentially a step in promoting industrial democracy. This is the modem trend in industrial world both in developed and developing countries. This is a concept of extending democracy of political systems in government to the industries.

The form, structure and the content of WPM vary with social norms and nature of government in each country. WPM takes the shape of self- management, co-determination, worker director and joint management councils. Despite variation in interpretation, all agree that participation means sharing the decision making power between management and workers.

Participate may protect the interests of both parties. But more than this protection, participation is a system of checks and balances which prevents exploitations and provides equity and fairness. This requires great awareness, education and conceptual skill from both the parties, to make WPM, a success.

Industrial democracy through WPM achieves the following

  1. Performance of both groups is evaluated objectively.
  2. Respect workers as free persons of equal value.
  3. Rule of law and natural justice.
  4. Discipline through self control and self direction
  5. Morale, motivation and a sense of belongingness.
  6. Productivity and high quality in work.
  7. Better compensation.

In other words the objectives of WPM are as follows

  1. To enlighten and involve workers to know better about their role in meeting the organisational objectives.
  2. To know about importance of productivity and quality aspects in sustenance and growth of the organisation.
  3. To help improve the supervisor-worker relations and management union relations.
  4. Involve workers in subjects like safety and environment care.
  5. Assist in team building and HRD activities.
  6. Develop a culture of self involvement to reduce vigilant supervision.
  7. Improve employee pride, morale and integrity.

Level of Participation:

(a) Informative Participation

This is merely information sharing of major aspects like product mix, productivity, balance sheet etc. Workers are not allowed close scrutiny of accounts.

(b) Consultative Participation

Here workers are consulted on such aspects like welfare, work methods, safety programmes. Worker’s body or joint councils can make recommendation. It is left to management to accept the recommendations or not.

(c) Associative Participation

Here, the consultation is extended to more areas. In addition, management has a moral responsibility to implement recommendation made by joint councils.

(d) Administrative Participation

Here, management having accepted the recommendations of joint councils refers alternatives of implementation plans or strategies for the consideration of the councils to suggest the best one. Here authority of decision making is delegated.

(e) Decisive Participation

Here decisions are taken jointly by management and workers on all important matter concerning the firm. Here both are equally responsible and accountable for the success or failure based on such decision. This, in a true sense, is the sharing of “profits” and “pains”.

A number of analysis have shown that significant changes of human behaviour is possible rapidly if persons who are expected to change are allowed to decide “what” and “how” about such changes.

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