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Weber and Heller et. al. with regard to worker's participation and control in the workplace. We will see throughout the essay that the desire for worker participation is directly related to the worker longing to regain their ownership over the means of production that might have been taken from them for a number of technical, social or commercial reasons that the participatory organs seek to mitigate.
Early on, Weber said that the expropriation of the individual worker from the ownership of production is determined by purely technical factors. Firstly, this could be because the means of production requires the services of many workers successively or at the same time. Secondly, the sources of power can rationally be exploited only if they are used simultaneously for many similar types of work under a unified control. Thirdly, if a technically rational organization of the work process is possible only by combining many complementary processes under continuous common supervision. Fourthly, this can happen when special technical training is needed for the management of co-coordinated processes of labor. Finally, if a unified control over the means of production and raw materials creates the possibility of subjecting labor to a stringent discipline, it will control the speed of work and the attainment of standardization of effort and of the quality of the means of production (Weber, 1978, 137).
In general, workers can also be separated from the means of production for economic reasons, including that it is generally possible to achieve a higher level of economic rationality of the management has extensive control over the selection and the modes of the use of workers to participate in management. Secondly, in a market economy, management is not hampered by any established rights of workers and which is not hampered by any control. Thirdly, since the 16th century, the market economy has extensively regimented labor to the market situations or to power relationships in society.
In addition to technical and economic reasons, there are other reasons as well that have a premium put upon them and that separate workers from the means of production. Firstly, capital accounting brings about the regimentation of the workforce and separates workers from the means of production. Secondly, a premium is put upon the purely commercial aspects of management as opposed to technical reasons or commercial secrets. Thirdly, this can happen if the speculative economy brings about expropriation of the means of production. Fourthly, if the sheer market size provides superior bargaining power with no rationality, it can happen as well. Finally, if free labor and the complete expropriation of the means of production can cause a complete disciplining of the workforce, it can come about as well (ibid., 138).
Heller et. al. defines a number of different ways that workers can participate in their organizations in the production decision making process. There are three broad arguments that support such participation. The first is of these is called humanistic, that is, that, by the contribution to the personal growth and job satisfaction that will in turn lead to participation that will enhance human dignity. The second argument, that is, that of power-sharing, is the belief that worker participation will redistribute social power, protect employees' interests, strengthen unions, and extend the benefits of political democracy to the workplace. The third is that worker participation that will promote organizational efficiency (Heller, Pusie, Strauss & Wilpert, 1998, 8).
As Strauss asks further, what else motivates workers to participate in workplace organization and has motivated its popularity in the last decades? One reason is that this has been propelled by organizational and economic organization has propelled workers to become more involved. In this way, it is seen to be in the way of economic desperation. At the heart of it is the belief that participation is the key to making an organization perform well through both indirect and direct participation in the labor process (ibid., 15-23).
In this way, decision making teams are mobilized to give workers a voice in their workplaces. This came out of research at the British Tavistock Institute originating with British coal miners in the 1940s and 1950s. As technology changed, the miner's teams became larger and less close knit with more specialized training for each individual member, causing them to pass problems onto another shift of workers. To fight this, the mining companies went back to smaller, decentralized teams that were cross-trained in different skills. The workers now…[continue]
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