Key Words - C

The question of worker democracy and control of enterprises is one which has been discussed for some time. It can take many forms from providing suggestions to management as to how the firm and workplace practices can improve to actually jointly managing and indeed determining the way organisations develop and evolve (see Marchington and Wilkinson, 2000). There is a scale of power which varies according to the influence a worker can have. Within the European context there has been an interest in co-determination for a long time and specific countries such as Germany have been known for their development of such forms. The German model is seen as a good example of co-determination where workers through various representatives have an input into the affairs of company management. The role of co-determination in current post Second World War Germany is more than just linked to the role of works councils and worker representatives on these bodies (these works councils where trade union representatives and other worker representatives discuss matters of work and employment with management and in some cases even sign collective agreements). In Germany co-determination involves a supervisory board in this case where there will be worker directors who attempt to influence decisions at the highest level. Such bodies continue to be dominated by the employers in the final instance however they do allow workers and their representatives some say on key strategic issues as such or at least advance notice of changes to come. There are many instances in Europe and in other contexts where companies have worker representatives on the board of directors although these are usually a small minority of individuals that are easily outnumbered by management. In addition the ability of worker representatives to influence proceedings may be impaired by the lack of training and support they receive, as well as their isolation from the customs and networks of management. However, in some contexts there is a growing interest in such a presence. With the increasing influence of company pension funds who in turn own a range of other company shares we are seeing a growing interest in worker representatives becoming more active as trustees and representatives in such bodies which will influence the conduct of HRM to some extent in organisations in the near future. 

Miguel Martinez Lucio

Further Readings

M., & Wilkinson, A. (2005). Direct participation and involvement. In Bach, S. (ed.) Managing human resources: personnel management in transition, Oxford: Blackwell 398-423.