Participative Management

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Today's international world of business is too complex and competitive for an authoritative approach to management. In order to succeed, companies need the support and expertise of its employees. Businesses are being redesigned to be flatter, so decisions are made by people close to the action. A more loosely created organizational structure can quickly adapt to changing business conditions and current projects. Overall, this belief in employee involvement is called participative management. It has been discussed and implemented for many years by scores of corporations, since empowered employees will feel better about their jobs and be more productive.

The foundation of participative management is recognized as early as the late 1920s with the work of Elton Mayo, whose basic thesis was that "our understanding of human problems of civilization should be at least equal to our understanding of its material problems."  In the absence of such understanding, the whole industrial structure is liable to destruction or decay. He further argued that with the industrialization of society, no improvement had come in the social status of the worker.  Once employees had had skilled jobs with necessary social functions, but now they were dispossessed of decisions over their work. As a result, their important functions passed to scientists and financiers. 

At the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company in Cicero, Illinois, Mayo conducted studies that concluded changes in output could be attributed to changes not only in work conditions but also personnel attitudes and social relations. He discovered that job satisfaction increased by employee participation in decisions rather than through short-term incentives.

Kurt Lewin's Frontiers in Group Dynamics in 1947 was another step in the participative management timeline. Lewin is universally recognized as the founder of modern social psychology. He pioneered the use of theory, using experimentation to test hypotheses, and placed significance on group dynamics and action research. He developed the Research Center on Group Dynamics, with six principles in mind:

(1) Group productivity: why was it that groups are so ineffective in getting things done? (2) Communication: how influence is spread throughout a group. (3) Social perception: how a person's group affected the way they perceived social events.

(4) Intergroup relations. (5) Group membership: how individuals adjust to these conditions.…[continue]

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"Participative Management" (2005, January 13) Retrieved July 3, 2015, from

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