Social Justice Research

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Worker Democracy and Worker Productivity

  • Henry M. LevinEmail author


A major source of oppression in industrial and post-industrial society is the restrictive and highly authoritarian nature of the workplace. One response is to democratize the workplace by increasing the participation of workers in making decisions and in choosing and evaluating managers as well as sharing in the ownership of the firm. These are not new ideas, and there are many examples of organizations pursuing various forms of democratic practices. However, a major objection is that such participation would compromise economic and other types of organizational productivity. This article examines the empirical support for that argument over a wide range of types of organizations in which workers participate in important decisions affecting their welfare. The overall results of this survey across many different forms of work organization suggest that the evidence supports the opposite conclusion, that worker participation increases productivity, particularly when workers share the benefits of higher productivity. The challenge is to ascertain ways of spreading these practices more widely.

Key Words

worker democracy productivity morality political participation sharing the gains 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew York

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