Democracy and Efficiency in the Economic Enterprise

Democracy and Efficiency in the Economic Enterprise

Democracy and Efficiency in the Economic Enterprise

Democracy and Efficiency in the Economic Enterprise

Synopsis

The collapse of central planning was hailed as evidence of the economic and moral superiority of capitalism over any possible alternative. The essays in this book provide a thorough theoretical and empirical critique of this orthodoxy.

Excerpt

The search for alternatives better than the present forms of organization and solution has always been high on the agenda of UNU/WIDER, particularly in those areas which directly influence the lives and aspirations of people.

In this era of major technological changes which are transforming institutions, the organization of work, industrial relations, and competition, there is a fundamentally important question: can the techno-economic and managerial postulates be reconciled with the improved participation of workers within the enterprise? The issue is an important component in the pursuit of equality in the overall search for, what might be termed, ‘economic disalienation’. The development of economic democracy and participation, as one of the instruments for its achievement, may simultaneously serve a number of goals. It may help the development of a society from which people do not feel excluded, and especially in the workplace where a sense of value as a person is needed by almost every worker. It is also an important instrument for the adaptation of the enterprises to the new era. The postulates of the market include more differentiated products and services, higher quality, and greater flexibility. The hierarchical structure of the enterprises will have to be transformed into a horizontal and flexible system, facilitating intensive and effective feedback. This process requires also a more efficient utilization of the initiatives and creativity of the labour force, in the complex chains of research and development, in production, distribution and sales. Participation means that the ‘economic enterprise’ views and treats its employees as valuable partners. Participation is also an instrument for consensus building, for the development of co-operation instead of confrontation within the enterprise. Participation could also be considered in the context of consolidating democracy in the evolving new market economies, where the present trends toward greater inequalities may frustrate and weaken the democratization process.

These considerations motivated UNU/WIDER to develop a research project on ‘Participation and Co-operation in Economic Enterprises: Democracy and Efficiency’. The papers in this volume are the outcome of the project. They discuss the philosophical, socio-economic, managerial and political aspects of participation, including cases studies and empirical experiences. They represent a valuable contribution to the international dialogue on the issue, related also to certain

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