In this study we have considered a wide range of empirical cases of workplace democratization—spanning several countries, ideological systems, and degrees of democratization. Included in that set are several worker-owned and worker-managed firms in the United States which we investigated first-hand. Utilizing that broad data base we were able to begin answering questions that are basic to the field: what is necessary for successful, ongoing democratization of the workplace? And what are democratization's principal sources of failure? Our strategy was to seek the minimal number of components that could account for the maintenance and success of democratization in a profit-making firm.
For the present, the analysis has been confined to factors internal to the firm, which proved to be sufficiently complex for the scope of a single study. We found that separating internal from external factors for the purposes of analysis was conceptually feasible and was not seriously challenged by the case material. Yet the model generated herein was kept open to—and appears quite capable of extension to—include those external factors. Indeed, that is one of our goals for subsequent research.
The primary focus in this study was political: the issues of management, power, and decision-making within the firm. Economic questions were not neglected, but we confined our analysis to those that most directly bear on the question of worker-manager relations (e.g., wages, productivity, creation and distribution of the surplus). Psychological factors emerged as crucial to certain parts of the management process and so were given due consideration, especially since workers' motivation to participate emerged as a central link between factors conditioning success or failure of democratization in the workplace. Though we were concerned with workers' motivation, this was not a study in the tradition of worker satisfaction and dissatisfaction that has evolved in contemporary social psychology (e.g., Smith et al., 1969; Brayfield and Rothe. 1951; Herzberg et al., 1959). Finally, our primary focus on political interactions meant that we gave little attention to technological factors affecting the work-process and the worker's situation within that process.
The method of our study was to integrate the vast case literature by constructing an inductive model. We aimed to keep the model as simple as possible, while developing it with contrasting case material in order to make it as inclusive as possible. Four criteria were employed to delimit the region the model would have to fill: systemic viability, economic viability, democratic and humanizing processes of management (pages 8-9).
With these criteria governing our analysis of case material, we identified