Participation as a collective good: democracy, autocracy and intermediate associations in organizations.
St Antony's College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
For some two decades writers have been loud in their
criticism of the authoritarian mode of management allegedly characteristic of modern executives. Hierarchical and centralized organizations have also come under fire for their rigidity and inability to assure employee participation. The benefits of centralization and decentralization have been held to be purely contingent on technological and environmental factors. In considering
both relative democracy and relative centralization these analysts have largely ignored intermediate associations. They assume that the large, highly centralized and controlled organization has been a direct result of industrialization and is to be countered directly by
democracy. This paper challenges a) that historical assumption suggesting that centralization was itself often a response to excessive executive democracy, and b) the assumption that democracy leads to effective participation and/or creativity. It suggests that recent stress on work
groups needs to be extended more to administrators and augmented by the creation of an entire segmentry structure through which the members of groups at different levels can secure collective goods, It argues that such a structure can generate both greater community--and thus motivation--and greater formal effectiveness.
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