Industrial Democracy: Reconciling Theories of the Firm and State
(1998) 14 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations 3
38 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2015
Date Written: 1998
Democratic theory has been widely applied in the meta-context of the state, but may perhaps be just as validly applied at the micro-level of the firm. In order to justify such an extension, it is necessary to consider the fundamental values from which democracy derives at the state level, and then to consider whether those values can be equally applied to relations within the firm. Moreover, is the use of democratic theory within the firm compatible with capitalist economic systems? This paper contrasts realities of the state and firm and challenges the constructed dichotomy between the political and non-political. It demonstrates the dramatic power imbalance in the structure of employer-employee relations and the ineffectiveness of market mechanisms as a safeguard of workers' rights. It concludes that an extension of democratic principles can be theoretically justified as a reconciliation of the values of liberty and equality. This is compatible with the role of the firm in a modern context as well as the proper functioning of the employer/employee relationship.
Keywords: employer-employee relationships
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