Introduction Workers Participation In Management Management Essay

There are 2 distinct groups of people in an undertaking viz managers and workers performing respectively two separate sets of function which are known as managerial and operative. The basic distinction between those who occupy managerial positions and workers is that managers are held accountable for the work of their subordinates , while workers are accountable only for their work. The extent to which workers may rise to become managers is though an important point , but is quite distinct from whether workers may take part in managerial functions.

Managerial functions are primarily concerned with planning , organizing , motivating and controlling in contrast with operative functions if the area of his operations is very small . But in case of a big organization , these functions are to be performed by different set of people . Workers participation in management seeks to bridge this gap authorizing workers to take part in the managerial process. Actually, this is a very wide view of the term workers participation in management and tis is not practically possible. This issue has been discussed later in this chapter.

Participation may take two forms, It may be :

( 1) ascending participation

(2) descending participation.

In case of asending participation ,the workers may be given an opportunity to influence managerial decisions at higher levels through elected representatives to joint councils or the board of directors of the company. But in desending participation, they may be given more powers to plan and to make decisions about their own work(e.g. delegation and job enlargement). This form of participation is quite popular in many organizations.


Workers participation in management is recommended to achieve the following objectives:

Increasing productivity for the general benefit of the enterprise, the employees and the community.

Giving employees a better understanding of their role in the working of industry and process of production.

Satisfying the worker’s urge for self – expression.

Achieving industrial peace , better relations and increased cooperation in industry.

Development of human personality.

Development of leaders from within the industry.


Reduced Industrial unrest:

Industrial conflict is a struggle between two organised groups which are motivated by the belief that their respective interests are endangered by the self – interested behavior of the other.

Reduced Misunderstanding :

Participation helps dispelling employees misunderstanding about the outlook of management in industry.

Increased Organisation balance:

If workers are invited to share in organizational problems , and to work towards the common solutions, a greater degree of organizational balance occurs because of decreased misunderstanding and individual and group conflicts . Participation leads to increased understanding throughout the organization .

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Increased Communication:

It is seldom possible for managers to have knowledge of all alternatives and all consequences related to the decision which they must make. Beacause of existence of barriers to the upward flow of information in most enterprises , much valuable information possessed by subordinates never reaches their managers . Participation tends to break the barriers and makes the information available to mangers. To the extend such information alters the decisions , the quality of decisions is improved/

Industrial democracy :

Participation helps to usher in an era of democracy in industry. It is based on the principle of recognition of the human factor. It tends to reduce class conflict between capital and labour . It also serves as a support to political democracy.

Less resistance to change :

When changes are arbitrarily introduced from above without explanation, subordinates tend to feel insecure and take counter measures aimed at sabotage of innovations. But when they have participated in the decision making process they have had an opportunity to be heard. They know what to expect and why. Their resistance to change is reduced.

Higher Productivity:

Increased productivity is possible only when there exists fullest co operation between labour and management . It has been empirically tested that poor ‘labour management relations’ do not encourage the workers to contribute anything more than the minimum desirable to retain their jobs. Thus , participation of workers in management is essential to increase industrial productivity.


A review of management literature on participation reveals that (since Elton Mayo first advocated the idea) three schools of thought have emerged . The first looks at participation as a process of decision making in which subordinates are allowed to have a say in or to influence the decision making. The second views participation as actual decision-making by the workers and not merely having “say” in it or influencing it. The third views it as a process in which subordinates exercise “control” on decision-making mechanism. A brief exposition of these three schools of thought is given below:

Influencing through Information Sharing.

According to the first view, participation takes place when the management solicits the opinion of workers before taking a decision. In other words,management merely provides an opportunity to the workers for ‘influencing’ or having a say in decision making. The decisions are ultimately taken by the management. Thus, the workers play a passive role in the process of decision -making as they have no final say in the decisions taken by the management.

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Joint Decision-making:

This school holds that participation of an individual in something occurs when he actively takes a part in that thing. The focus here is that there must exist”taking part actively”. It is this point that this school differs from “influence” interpretation of participation. In case of ‘influence’ or ‘having’ a say’, the participation is of passive nature but in case of joint decision making, the workers are active participant in the process of decision-making . Their representatives sit across the table with the representatives of management to take important decisions particularly on matters affecting the workers. Workers may be members of words committee, joint management council etc. alongwith the representatives of management. The decisions are taken through mutual discussions between the representatives of the workers and those of the management.

Self Control :

The essential feature of self-control is that management and workers are not visualized as two distinct groups but as active members with equal voting rights. Every member participates right from decision – making to execution of decisions. Self control implies a process in which the workers exercise control on the mechanism of decision – making as full – fledged and active members .


It is suggested that to ensure effective workers participation in management , the following conditions must be fulfilled:

Democratic attitude of management:

The attitude of the management must be broad, progressive and democratic. It must be willing to associate the workers to discuss the organizational problems freely and frankly witht hem and find joint solutions to the problems.

Strong Union:

There must be a strong and stable union in every enterprise to represent the workers in various forums of participation such as works committees, joint management councils etc. The trade union leadership must be guided by the philosophy of cooperation in resolving the problems of the enterprise.

Mutual trust and faith:

Existence of atmosphere of trust , faith , confidence and recognition is a must for cooperation between the workers and the management. There must be a genuine desire on the part of the management and the workers to understand each other to arrive at decisions acceptable to both the parties.

Clarity of objectives of workers’ participation:

Management and workers must understand clearly the objectives of participation. Management should not take it as an imposed liability and workers should not use it for expressing their grievances and demands only. The subject matter of participation must also be clear to both the workers and the management . It must have relevance for both the parties such as quality and productivity improvement, sharing of the gains of productivity etc

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Workers participation must be an ongoing process & should not be treated as onetime affair . Workers participation should not be used merely as a fire – fighting instrument for handling industrial relations problems.

Cordial industrial Relations:

Labour – management relations in the enterprise should be cordial or at least there should be no tension in the relations . There should be no blockage in communication between them.

Labor relations during 2000-2011

Between 2004 and 2011, India has experienced a decline in unionized labour. The number of labour disputes has dropped to 400 annually over the same period, compared with over 1,000 in the 1990s. The annual number of man-days lost to labour disputes in early 1990s averaged around 27 million; by 2010, while Indian economy has grown significantly and Indian labour force has expanded, the average number of man-days lost has dropped by about 30%. The downward trend continues both in terms of number of disputes and lost man-days per dispute. For example, India experienced 249 disputes in the first 5 months of 2010, and 101 disputes in 2012 over the same period.

Workers Participation in management is feasible and desirable??

The Industrial policy resolution of April 1956 made it clear that in a socialist democracy , labour is a partner in the common task of development and should participate in it with enthusiasm . The second Five Year Plan which was released in the same year , identified the creation of industrial democracy as a pre- requisite for the establishment of a socialist society. According to the plan ,” A socialist society is build up not solely on monetary incentive , the worker should be made to feel that , in his own way , he is helping to build a progressive state” . Detailing the advantages of workers participation in management , the plan envisaged that such a measure would help in

Promoting increased productivity for the general benefit of the enterprise , the employees and the community.

Giving employees a better understanding of their role in the working of industry and of the process of production

Satisfying the workers urge for self expression thus leading to industrial peace, better relations and increased co – operation.

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