Last Updated 28 Jul 2020

Participatory Workplace

Category Workplace
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The organization to which I am affiliated employs about five employees. The owner of the workplace is our boss. Typically, the organization is receptionist; that is, it is produces service-oriented products. The organization produces only hair products since it has limited resources to diversify product sale. Compared with other business establishments, the organization is small.

In my 25 years of work, the organization grew little probably because its capital base was insufficient for expanding capital outlay. The organization though continues to provide the public quality hair products. Its supply chain of hair products is relatively open and diverse. The organization can procure hair products from different manufacturers. This makes transactions more competitive (because of the existence of many manufacturers).

The organization is typically controlled by the principles of human resource management. Independent contractors are used for the procurement of supplies. Hiring of employees involves several stages. First is the identification of positions vacant. Second is finding potential recruits to fill these vacancies. Third is training the recruits to ensure that they will become high performing employees. The selected recruits will be hired. They will be given employment packages and benefits (corollary to their type of work). Terms of employment and regulations of the firm will be discussed in scheduled sessions.

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This is done to make the employees aware of the firm’s policies and current economic standing. Regulations will serve as limits to employee behavior in the workplace. Most of the time, regulations are systematically arranged in manuals which are given to employees. In the case of my organization, selection of potential employees is easy and not as restrictive as that of large business establishments. Usually, selection of potential employees and the training period are limited to 2 or 3 weeks. Orientation of the organization’s policies and regulations usually take a day (this is so since the organization is small).

In sociology, centralization is defined as the process by which activities of an organization, especially those about decision-making are concentrated within particular positions or areas. Centralization can be vertical or horizontal. Vertical centralization is the typical relationship between departments and the board of directors. The board of directors usually provides the general framework of a given policy.

The managers of the departments implement the provisions of a policy. Hence, the managers execute the specifics of a given policy. Horizontal centralization is the typical relationship between departments. In organizational theory, some departments are generally important than other departments. For example, the sales department is usually more important than the legal department of a firm precisely because the former holds the future of the firm. The sales department determines the financial status of a firm. Hence, relatively, the actions of the sales department may determine the actions of the other departments.

Under centralization, open communication is only possible between managers of several departments and the general manager of the firm, and between the board of directors and the general manager. Open communication between ordinary employees and the management is done through division supervisors (although the information becomes blur as it passes from one level to another). Open information is only possible for high level managers and of course, the board of directors.

Standardization is the process of agreeing upon a given set of guidelines for interoperability. Standardization is tantamount to enacting rules to maintain the operability of an organization. Hence, an organization creates standardized procedures in order to provide the employees an efficient and effective means of rendering work to the firm. For example, standardized guidelines for hiring employees allow a given company to select the best and efficient people to occupy vacant positions in the company. In addition, standardization generally prevents work discrimination in a company. This is so since the behavior of all workers in a company is limited by standardized work procedures.

Role specialization in industrial sociology is defined as the diversification of job positions in the workplace. As one may note, jobs in most companies are highly diversified. Diversification ensures efficiency and effectiveness of a company. Diversifying job positions saves time and amount for a company. In addition, diversification provides the avenue for increased cooperation and interdependence among workers. For example, rather than employing two script writers, it is efficient for a film production group to employ one script writer and one film reviewer. This saves time for the firm.

Autonomy is a condition in which employees are given some freehand over the nature and discourse of their jobs. This is typical of research firms where employees are given deadlines. The employees are free to do anything so long as the prescribed work is finished on or before the given deadline. By giving some autonomy to the employees, alienation is prevented. The employees are able to exercise their work values (professionalism) and skills without institutional limits.

The distribution of power in a firm should be made more uniform to allow workers more voice. Resting power to one person or group of persons prevents workers from airing their grievances. Thus, in making the distribution of power more uniform, the firm creates institutions or channels that can absorb all the grievances and needs of the workers. Once the grievances are well documented, negotiation is the only plausible option. In the negotiation process, the management and the workers should have equal powers in terms of negotiation. The options that management will take should be compensated by the actions that the workers will enforce.

Technology should be made more human-resource oriented; that is, technology should put under the discretion of both the management and the workers. If the management solely controls the direction of a firm’s technology, the workers loses value. If the control and direction of a firm’s technology solely belongs to the workers (e.g. in communist countries), the firm loses potential earnings.

Therefore, there is a need to strike a middle position between the management and the workers. A middle position will enable the two parties to cooperate effectively with regard to the use of technology in the company. In addition, this will make work more participatory (employees and the management).

In terms of skill, no substantial changes are necessary except that related skills should be realigned. This will allow more cooperation between employees, and consequently, making work more participatory (since every job in the firm is viewed essential to the continuity of a firm’s operations).

Here are then the necessary changes that the management should undertake to make work more participatory:

1) Realigning related jobs – increased cooperation among related jobs increases employee participation and motivation of employees;

2)Putting some technologies of the company under the control of the employees – the employees will determine the production process (work in general), making their perception of the workplace more positive. This will generally increase participation among employees;

3)And, institutionalizing open channels of communication (grievances included) – the needs and grievances of the employees will be taken into account by management. If these needs and grievances are addressed, the management will expect an increased worker propensity to participate in company activities.


Hall, Richard and Pamela S. Tolbert. (2004). Organizations: Structures, Processes, and O

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