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Building Industrial Democracy

Albert Koopman

The ultimate expression of social synergy, within an enterprise as a whole, might arguably be an industrial democracy. A definition of industrial democracy, taken from the 1971 Congress of the Swedish Trade Union Conferences reads:

Industrial Democracy is part of the effort made by the labor movement to extend democracy throughout society. Life away from the workplace has developed in one way and life at the workplace has developed in another. The difference constantly grows and is at the root of the increasing need which employees feel to exert an influence on conditions of work and on management. If arbitrary situations are allowed to persist in one sector of society, they are an obstacle to the progress of democracy in other sectors. Industrial Democracy should be regarded as part of the general process of democratization.

We, as new-paradigm managers, will have to evolve ways of building up interdependence between capital and labor, in order to play our vital role in the design and implementation of economic strategies for our companies as a whole.

As we have already said, business cannot exist in a socio-politico-economic vacuum, and it is unrealistic to say that we have no role to play in an ever changing world. We are intrinsic to that process of change and not an adjunct to it. As such, we should adopt a far more preemptive role in the democratization process, by addressing the redistribution of power within our businesses. ...

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