What is participation? A review of the literature and some methodlogical problems

Loveridge, Ray (1980) What is participation? A review of the literature and some methodlogical problems. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 18 (3). pp. 297-317.

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This paper sets out a brief summary of the analysis of industrial relations systems that has emerged from the work of scholars observing the British situation over the past twenty years. In particular it focuses upon the 'consensus-convergence model' favoured by American academics in the 1950s and secondly, upon the 'informal-formal divergence' model put forward by a group of Oxford scholars in the 1960s. Both models emphasize institutional aspects of the system: the needs and aspirations of the actors are seen as part of the input of the system largely in so far as as they involve conflict or disorder. The output of the industrial relations system is seen to be rules, the most important of which are the procedures by which disputes may be resolved and individual grievances may be handled. The production of such rules depends on the support forthcoming through 'a sufficiently high degree of consensus among those whose interests are most affected by their application'.-"^
THIS paper sets out to examine the main features of the contingency model of participation put forward by Walker. It examines the model from a methodological perspective referring to experience of participative techniques of management to bring out the value-laden nature of the exercise and the difficulties on achieving 'rigour' in relation to the criteria for 'success' set out by Walker (op. cit.), French and Wall and Lischeron. Finally it refers to two paradigms of participation. One is that of 'constitutional pluralism' in which the participant is assumed to have only a narrow instrumental approach to industrial democracy. The other is that of 'primitive democracy' in which the individual is normally assumed to maintain high and sustained levels of awareness and involvement once having achieved to political 'maturity'. It concludes by adopting the former more cynical view of the world.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: management; employee participation; decision making; industrial relations;
Subject(s): Science & technology management
Centre: Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2011 10:26
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/831

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