First Necessary Component:
Participation in Decision-Making

Minimally, democratization begins with the establishment of an upward flow of criticisms and suggestions from the managed to their managers. This rests on the recognition that each member of an organization—no matter how low on the authority scale—has his or her special area of competence and that this competence is developed daily in the employee's particular task and sphere of operations. By guaranteeing every employee a regular opportunity to contribute that knowledge to the organization's decision-making, the organization gains from democratization in at least two important respects: (1) the new feedback from employees can be an important source of innovation (Smith, 1952:5; Blumberg,1968: Ch. 5 and 6), and (2) it can serve to monitor and correct the organization's performance (Schultz, 1958:55-56).

In a completely democratized system, the upward flow expands to include selection of managers by the managed; in such cases it equals or outweighs the downward flow of instructions and information from the managers to the managed. A circular pattern of authority is, therefore, said to exist in fully democratized organizations, daily managerial authority downward being balanced by employees' ultimate power to remove the managers, plus employees' frequent upward input into policy-making at almost every level.

Between full and minimal democratization lies a multitude of forms, which analysts have categorized in almost as multitudinous a fashion (Garson, 1974). In order to comprehend and systematize the relevant experience, we propose to focus initially on three dimensions of participation:

  1. The degree of control employees enjoy over any single decision,
  2. The issues over which that control is exercised, and
  3. The organizational level at which it is exercised.

Each of these dimensions is manifested in practice by a wide range of forms, as illustrated in Figures 4.1, 4.3, 4.6, and 4.7. (We have not attempted in these figures to present every possible manifestation but merely to identify significant points along each dimension and to show where concrete cases belong.)

In Figure 4.1, the amount of employee influence over any given decision rises as one goes upwards in the chart. Basic forms of employee input into decision-making are described on the left half of the diagram.