Sub-theme 49: Organizational Democracy and Society ---> MERGED with sub-theme 40


Call for Papers

Organizational democracy is one of the traditional topoi of management studies (Davies, 1967; Dachler & Wilpert, 1978, Adams, 1992, Wilkinson et al., 2010). Different forms of organizational democracy are discussed, like direct (e.g., participation in decision-making) and representative (e.g. trade unions and works councils), immaterial and financial (e.g., labour-owned companies). The vast majority of research on organizational democracy has focused on company-based effects, such as employee satisfaction, motivation, loyalty, and innovative behaviours (e.g., Jenkins & Lawler, 1981; Wright & Kim, 2004; Bakan et al., 2004; Pereira & Osburn, 2007), or financial performance (e.g., Long, 1982; Cox et al., 2006).
Though often mentioned, the extent to which organizational democracy can make a contribution to society and politics beyond the focal company has hardly been addressed in more depth. The classical works by Follett (1940), Pateman (1970) or Dewey (1963) that point to the upmost importance of workplaces and schools as sites of democracy education have been barely acknowledged in organization studies. Few exceptions from it, like the concept of companies as political entities as proposed by Ferreras (2017), rather prove this rule.
Empirical analysis of the nexus between organizational democracy and society is scant as well. Findings from few previous studies (Weber et al., 2009; Budd et al., 2018; Timming & Summers, 2020) indicate that employees from companies with higher degrees of organizational democracy tend towards more highly expressed moral and community orientations and show higher levels of political participation than individuals employed by organizations with lesser or no democratic arrangements. Nevertheless, the understanding of how organizational democracy is linked to the consequences on the societal level is still limited.
The aim of thos sub-theme is to discuss in more depth the type and nature of the relationship between organizational democracy and its societal and political consequences both in conceptual and in empirical terms. We invite conceptual as well as empirical, interdisciplinary as well as disciplinary-based papers from organization studies as well as industrial relations or political sciences addressing topics like:

  • To what extent can organizational democracy and employee participation affect political attitudes and political participation?

  • To what extent does the absence or failure of employee participation foster authoritarian attitudes of employees?

  • What are processes and mechanisms that can explain the link between organizational democracy and its societal effects?

  • To what extent do arguments provided by Follett (1940), Pateman (1970) or Dewey (1963) map adequately the current organizational life and the political context in Europe? How these arguments can be integrated with recent theoretical developments (e.g. Ferreras, 2017)?

  • Which methodologies issues and options should be considered in order to conduct rigorous empirical research on societal effects of workplace democracy?

  • To what extend does the interdisciplinary nature of the issue considered impede conceptual and empirical developments?



  • Adams, R.J. (1992): Efficiency is not enough. Labor Studies Journal, 17 (1), 18–28.
  • Budd, J.W., Lamare, R.J., & Timming, A.R. (2018): “Learning about democracy at work: Cross-national evidence of individual employee voice influencing political participation in civil society.” ILR Review, 71 (4), 956–985.
  • Cox, A., Zagelmeyer, S., & Marchington, M. (2006): “Embedding employee involvement and participation at work.” Human Resource Management Journal, 16 (3), 250–267.
  • Dachler, P.H., & Wilpert, B. (1978): “Conceptual dimensions and boundaries of participation in organizations: A critical evaluation.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 23 (1), 1–39.
  • Davies, B. (1967): “Some thoughts on ‘organizational democracy’.” Journal of Management Studies, 4 (3), 270–281.
  • Dewey, J. (1963): School and Society. Chicago: Illinois University Press.
  • Ferreras, I. (2017): Firms as Political Entities: Saving Democracy through Economic Bicameralism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Follett, M.P. (1940): “Power.” In: H.C. Metcalf & L. Urwick (eds.): Dynamic Administration. Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett. New York: Harper and Brothers, 95–116.
  • Jenkins, G.D. Jr., & Lawler III, E.E. (1981): “Impact of Employee Participation in Pay Plan Development.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 28 (1), 111–128.
  • Long, R. (1982): “Employee ownership and work attitudes.” Industrial Relations, 21 (2), 196–215.
  • Pateman, C. (1970): Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pereira, G.M., & Osburn, H.G. (2007): “Effects of participation in decision making on performance and employee attitudes: A quality circles meta-analysis.” Journal of Business Psychology, 22 (2), 145–153.
  • Timming, A., & Summers, J. (2020): “Is workplace democracy associated with wider pro-democracy affect? A structural equation model.” Economic and Industrial Democracy, 41 (3), 709–726.
  • Weber, W.G., Unterrainer, C., & Schmid, B.E. (2009): “The influence of organizational democracy on employees' socio-moral climate and prosocial behavioral orientations.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30 (8), 1127–1149.
  • Wilkinson, A., Gollan, P.J., Marchington, M., & Lewin, D. (eds.) (2010): The Oxford Handbook of Participation in Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wright, B.E., & Kim, S. (2004): “Participation’s influence on job satisfaction: The importance of job characteristics.” Review of Public Personnel Administration, 23 (1), 18–40.