In scanning the recent literature on participatory management certain themes arise. Participatory management is a way to empower employees and create a more innovative bottom up structure for organizations. It is a movement toward decentralizing power. There are many suggestions on how this type of structure is to be realized. Most articles I reviewed have positive views of this structural method.
Participative management is rooted in the human resource theoretical school. Using this type of model has a strong underpinning in utilizing people as a valuable resource. In fact many articles talk about the ability of peoples minds as the most important resource in today’s world. Most of the literature I reviewed seems to be asserting that this sharing of power within, and commitment to the product put out, is the only way to operate if organizations want to remain competitive. This organizational trend is definitely worker-friendly in its orientation and intended consequence.
One common positive theme in the literature on participatory management is the increased communication and unlocking of ideas that occurs when employees are not intimidated by a strict hierarchical and authoritarian organizational arrangement (Collins, 1995; Morvec, Jphannessen, & Hjelmas, 1997). The improvement of morale and lessening of work related stressors are other common premises observed (Slate & Vogel, 1997). Renewed commitment and increased worker knowledge are also constructive outcomes (Pine, Warsh & Maluccio, 1998).
Whereas most of the literature on this topical area is supportive and positive about participative management formats but there are pitfalls to avoid when implementing such a plan. Workers must be shown the way and new cultures must be developed in order for these types of systems to work (Goh, 1998; Moravec, Jphannesen, & Hjelmas 1997). Participatory management has many time and effort costs and these must be weighed against the amount of good such systems provide. There are some circumstances where participative management tools must be modified or not undertaken (Foster-Fishman & Keys, 1997).
There are certain elements needed for participative management to be successful. Clear leadership and commitment from upper level leaders are crucial. Furthermore clear communication of specific goals and objectives are also essential ingredients (Goh, 1998). Political subcultures need to be considered and addressed so that efforts to gain input are not subverted (Collins, 1995). One compelling...