Participative work design: A contribution to democracy in the office and on the shop floor

  • Enid Mumford
Part of the International series on the quality of working life book series (IQWL, volume 8)


The case study described in this paper represents the present stage of an evolutionary attempt to provide workers with the opportunity and skills to redesign their own work systems. This approach has now been used by the author in four different kinds of enterprise, a British company manufacturing building products, an American insurance company, a British bank, and a large British engineering establishment. In each of these establishments a new computer system was being introduced into an office situation and this was seen as providing an admirable opportunity for the redesign of work so as to (1) increase the satisfaction of staff, and (2) increase their work efficiency. It was believed that these two objectives were not entirely independent. Many workers appear to become frustrated and dissatisfied when working in an inefficient and poorly administered work situation, although clearly there are many factors other than efficiency influencing job satisfaction and these will be discussed later in this paper. Similarly an important element in job satisfaction appears to be a feeling of ‘competence’ and people have difficulty in being ‘competent’ where work is not efficiently organized.


Trade Union Design Group Work System Work Organization Democratic Approach 
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  1. Mumford, Enid (1972): Job satisfaction: a method of analysis. In: Personnel Review 1, 3.Google Scholar
  2. Mumford, Enid (1976a): Strategy for the redesign of work. In: Personnel Review 5, 2.Google Scholar
  3. Mumford, Enid (1976b): Towards the democratic design of work systems. In: Personnel Management 8, 9.Google Scholar
  4. Taylor, J. C (1975): The human side of work: the socio-technical approach to work system design. In: Personnel Review 4, 3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Council for the Quality of Working Life 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enid Mumford
    • 1
  1. 1.Industrial SociologyManchester Business SchoolUK

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