June 17, 2024

Workers’ Participation in Management

Workers’ Participation in Management

Workers participation in management is in essential ingredient of industrial democracy. The concept of workers participation in management is based in “Human Relations” approach to management which brought about new set of values to labour and management.

Traditionally, the concept of Workers’ Participation in Management (WPM) refers to participation of non-managerial employees in the decision-making process of the organisation. Workers’ participation in management meets the psychological needs of the workers to a greater extent. That way it may also be treated as the process of delegation of authority in the general areas of managerial functions.

According to one view, workers participation is based on the fundamental concept that the ordinary worker invest his labour in, and ties his fate to, his place of work and, therefore, he has a legitimate right to have a share in influencing the various aspects of company policy”.

To quote the version of British Institute of Management, “Workers’ participation in management is the practice in which employees take part in management decisions and it is based on the assumption of commonality of interest between employer and employee in furthering the long term prospects of the enterprise and those working in it”.

According to G.S. Walpole, participation in management gives the workers a sense of importance, price and accomplishment; it given him the freedom and the opportunity for self-expression; a feeling of belonging to his place of work and a sense of workmanship and creativity. It provides for the integration of his interest with those of the management and makes him a joint partner in the enterprise”.

Dr. Alexander considers a management to be participative, “if it gives scope to the workers to influence its decision making process on any level or sphere or if it shares with them some if its managerial prerogatives”.

Clegg says, “It implies a situation where workers representatives are, to some extent, involved in the process of management decision making, but where the ultimate power is in the hands of the management”.

According to Dr. Davis, “it is a mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to goals and share responsibilities in them”.

According to Dr. Davis, “it is a mental and emotional involvement of a person in a group situation which encourages him to contribute to goals and share responsibilities in them”.

In should be borne in mid that when individuals are provided with opportunities for expression and share in decision-making, they show much initiative and accept responsibility substantially. The rationale of workers’ participation in management lies in that it helps in creation amongst the workers a sense of involvement in their organisation, a better understanding of their role in the smooth functioning of industry and provides them a means of self-realization, thereby, promoting efficiency and increased productivity.

Thus the concept workers’ participation in management encompasses the following:

  • It provides scope for employees in the decision making of the organisation.
  • The participation may be at the shop level, departmental level or at the top level.
  • The participation includes the willingness to share the responsibility by works as they have a commitment to execute their decisions.
  • The participation is conducted through the mechanism of forums which provide for association of workers representatives.
  • The basic idea is to develop self control and self discipline among works, so that the management become “Auto Management”.


The scheme has economic, psychological, ethical and political objectives.

  • Its psychological objective of the scheme is to secure full recognition of the workers. Association of worker with management provides him with a sense of importance, involvement and a feeling of belongingness. He considers himself to be an indispensable constituent of the organisation.
  • Socially, the need for participation arises because modern industry is a social institution with the interest of employer, the share-holders, the community and the workers equally invested in it.
  • The ethical objective of participation is to develop workers free personality and to recognize human dignity.
  • The political objective of participation is to develop workers conscious of their democratic rights on their work place and thus bring about industrial democracy.

Levels of Participation

Workers’ participation is possible at all levels of management; the only difference is that of degree and nature of application. For instance, it may be vigorous at lower level and faint at top level. Broadly speaking there is following five levels of participation:

  1. Information participation: It ensures that employees are able to receive information and express their views pertaining to the matters of general economic importance.
  2. Consultative participation: Here works are consulted on the matters of employee welfare such as work, safety and health. However, final decision always rests at the option of management and employees’ views are only of advisory nature.
  3. Associative participation: It is extension of consultative participation as management here is under moral obligation to accept and implement the unanimous decisions of employees.
  4. Administrative participation: It ensure greater share of works in discharge of managerial functions. Here, decision already taken by the management come to employees, preferably with alternatives for administration and employees have to select the best from those for implementation.
  5. Decisive participation: Highest level of participation where decisions are jointly taken on the matters relation to production, welfare etc. is called decisive participation.

Forms of Workers’ Participation in Management

The forms of workers participation in management vary from industry to industry and country to country depending upon the political system, pattern of management relations and subject or area of participation. The forms of workers participation may be as follows:

  1. Joint Consultation Model
  2. Joint Decision Model
  3. Self Management, or Auto Management Scheme
  4. Workers Representation on Board


  1. Joint consultation model: In joint consultation model the management consults with the workers before taking decisions. The workers represent their view through ‘Joint consultative Committees’. This form is followed in U.K., Sweden and Poland.
  2. Joint decision model: In this form both the workers and management jointly decide and execute the decisions. This form of participation is followed in U.S.A. and West Germany.
  3. Self-management or auto management: In this model, the entire control is in the hands of workers. Yugoslavia is an example to this model. Where the state industrial units are run by the workers under a scheme called ‘Self-Management or Auto Management Scheme’.
  4. Workers’ representation on board: Under this method, the workers elect their representative and send them to the Board to participate in the decision making process.

The participation of workers may be formal or informal. In the formal participation, it takes the forms of formal structures such as Works Committee, Shop Councils, Production Committee, Safety Committee, Joint Management Councils, Canteen Committee etc. The informal participation may be such as the supervisor consulting the workers for granting leave, overtime, and allotment of worked or transfer of workers from one department to another.

Workers’ Participation in Management in India

Workers participation in management in India was given importance only after independence. Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 was the first step in this direction, which recommended for the setting up of Works Committees. The Joint Management Councils were established in 1950 which increased the participation of labour in management. The management scheme, 1970 gave birth to ‘Board of Management’. Since July 1975, the two-tire participation model called ‘Shop Council’ at the shop level and ‘Joint Councils’ at the enterprise level were introduced.

Based on the review and performance of previous schemes a new scheme was formulated in 1983. The new scheme of workers participation was applicable to all central public sector enterprises, except those specifically exempted. The scheme with equal number of representatives will operate both at shop as well as plant level. The various functions of participative forum laid down in the scheme could be modified with the consent of parties. The scheme could not make such head way due to lack of union leaders consensus of the mode of representation and workers’ tendency to discuss ultra-vires issues e.g. pay scales, wages etc.

Prior to WPM Bill, 1990 all the schemes of participation were non-statutory and concentrated on particular levels. For effective and meaningful participation at all levels, a bill was introduced in Parliament on 25th May, 1990. The bill provide for effective participation at all level by formulating schemes of participation. For electing representatives for participation it also provides for secret ballot. The appropriate government may also appoint inspectors to review participation schemes and the bill also has provision of punishment for those who contravene any of the provision of the Act.

Thus the workers’ participation schemes in India provide wide scope for application and upliftment of workers. But in practice, these schemes have not met with success though they are successful in some private sector units. The factors responsible for the failure are:

  • Attitude of the management towards the scheme is not encouraging. The preventatives of workers are not given due recognition by the management.
  • The attitude of trade unions towards the schemes is negative as they consider these schemes are reducing the power of Trade Unions. Some Trade Unions boycott Joint Management Council meetings.

The success these schemes require certain conditions.

  • Management should appreciate the scheme and accept them in full faith.
  • Trade unions have to cooperate with the schemes.
  • Workers have to be educated.

Thus workers’ participation in management in India has yet to succeed. It can be done by educating the workers, creating an environment in the organisatoin for coordination of workers and management.

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