Participatory Bureaucracy: Addressing Gender Inequality in Worker Cooperatives

32 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2022

See all articles by Joan S. M. Meyers

Joan S. M. Meyers

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Date Written: October 17, 2022

Abstract

Worker cooperatives—firms owned and governed by their workers—have experimented with organizational structure in aid of greater equality. Gender theorists and cooperativists have argued that bureaucracy produces inequality, but bureaucracy has also demonstrably reduced organizational inequality. By unpacking “bureaucracy,” both discrete and mutually reinforcing effects of authority and organizational formalization are revealed. Using a comparative study of two highly formalized worker cooperatives, the inequality effects of formalized hierarchical and distributed management are identified: while formalization of managerial bureaucracy amplifies biases and intensifies inequality regimes, formalized but distributed participatory bureaucracy mutes and transforms biases and creates more egalitarian outcomes.

Keywords: Bureaucracy, Gender inequality, Gendered organizations, Inequality regimes, Worker cooperatives

JEL Classification: D7, D73, J54, P13, Z13

Suggested Citation

Meyers, Joan S. M., Participatory Bureaucracy: Addressing Gender Inequality in Worker Cooperatives (October 17, 2022). Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2022, pp. 23-54, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4240310

Joan S. M. Meyers (Contact Author)

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

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