Industrial democracy/worker participation, a concept deep rooted in the history of labour management relations, is gaining new vigour in the social, cultural and political climate dominating the final decades of this century. An often controversial relationship that takes many forms, participation is raising new challenges and priorities for corporate management from shop-floor to boardroom. Beneficial consequences in the form of increased motivation, satisfaction, productivity, reduced alienation and conflict may flow from participation. By giving the worker more autonomy, his sense of regimentation and powerlessness may be reduced, also taking part in decisions that effect his work life may give his work more meaning.
The proposition that increased participation in the workplace, through the equalisation of power, results in increased motivation has been argued by many writers in recent literature. The objective of this research report is to examine this proposition.
Firstly, selected aspects of motivation theory are examined. This is followed by a comprehensive review of the voluminous literature on industrial democracy, including a brief overview of the historical development, an outline of the objectives, areas and forms of participation and the attitudes of management, unions and employees to participation.
An international perspective of industrial democracy is provided in Chapter 4 by examining the operations in selected overseas countries. Chapter 5 highlights various mechanisms adopted by four organisations experimenting in different forms of industrial democracy.
Finally, the proposition outlined above is examined and the interaction between the two concepts defined. The theory examined supports the proposition - increased participation results in increased motivation.