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The epistemic potentials of workplace democracy

Felix Gerlsbeck and Lisa Herzog

Review of Social Economy, 2020, vol. 78, issue 3, 307-330

Abstract: Can the alleged conflict between efficiency and justice in the debate about workplace democracy be overcome? We argue that this might be possible by applying arguments from epistemic democratic theory to workplaces. To do so, we first define our notion of workplace democracy, and argue that the relevant decisions in companies concern the search for mutually beneficial solutions for workers, owners and society at large, or the fair management of conflicts between these groups. On this basis, we examine which epistemic advantages of democracy apply to decision-making within companies. We argue that the inherent reflexivity and adaptability of democratic systems can be a great advantage in the uncertain and changeable contexts in which companies operate. We reply to some objections, including the claim that feedback from markets provides sufficient information for companies, and conclude by calling for experiments with democratic practices in workplaces.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/00346764.2019.1596299

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