To develop a model that would satisfy the requirements of breadth and flexibility, it was necessary, of course, to examine more than one type of democratization. Here we present a few different cases to illustrate the range of democratization that exists in autonomous firms—the range of cases from which we ultimately derived the model presented in Part II. Since it is not possible nor sensible to present in detail all the cases we examined (which are listed in Table 1.1) only a few selected cases, representative of distinctly different types of democratization, are discussed here. They illustrate how the essential components for the general model were uncovered. Then, in Part II. we shall draw on the remainder of our cases to fill out and refine the model.
Certain cases are called "partial" systems, because they usually allow the employees only partial control over the decisions that affect them. Nevertheless, these cases can be a valuable source of knowledge about democratization. The presence in each company of only one or two elements of democratization allows us to trace the consequences of each of these elements without the additional complexity of other components. Partial cases can, therefore, be analyzed in comparative perspective as a series of "natural experiments" (Babbie, 1975: 251-256). Furthermore, their resemblance to conventional enterprises on some dimensions helps us to discern what uniquely pertains to democratization. They challenge us to determine the boundary between democratized and non-democratized situations. Some of them, such as the Scanlon Plan, are very puzzling borderline cases, lacking worker-ownership but exhibiting much worker influence and a guaranteed employee share in profits. When taken together, therefore, these partial cases compel us to refine our concepts in order that they may accommodate the real achievements as well as the shortcomings of these cases. They thus help us to identify what is essential to democratization, though as cases they have perhaps been underplayed in much of the literature.
An Early Experience of Self-Management in
Private Enterprise: The Bat'a Boot & Shoe Co.
In 1922, Thomas Bat'a, owner of several shoe factories in central Czechoslovakia, inaugurated a system of partial self-management in his plants (Dubreuil,1963; ILO,1930; Sprague,1932; Čekota,1964). Like much of Europe, Czechoslovakia was then caught in a serious recession, inflation was rampant, unemployment was speedily increasing. Bat'a's own firm had been suffering under huge debts incurred from its take-over