Workplace Participation: An Informational Basis Issue?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Seminarraum 5C G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Barbara GIULLARI, University of Bologna (Italy), Italy
As time goes by, employee participation in workplace has followed different paths in relation to the economic and political events of the different countries; nevertheless, employee participation is an ambivalent crossover between capitalism and democracy, due to the asymmetry in wage relationship.

In Italy, as elsewhere, the effort to favour more inclusive decision-making processes in workplace has gone hand to hand to actions aimed to provide to employees instrument to improve knowledge, needed to take part in society and to appreciate the sense of their work life experience (for example: extension of compulsory education, “150 hours” experience, etc.).

In the post-Fordist organizations, focused on flexibility and efficient management of human capital, individual knowledge is much worth; in this circumstance social knowledge is being privatised more and more and also collective belonging of employees is weakening. Also the participation of workers has met a substantial metamorphosis: unlike the recent past, nowadays, companies usually ask the employees for more participation and commitment in order to increase value, sometimes even including them in decision-making process.

In this scenario, the proposed paper stems from the idea that besides the institutional and organizational perspective of workplace democracy, the issue of participation in workplace requires analysis of situated working practices as knowing-in-practice, a collective activity emerging from the dynamics of interactions and cooperation. In a pragmatical perspective, with the support of Sociology of work studies carried out by the Author (on topics as work safety, training programs, local bargaining experience), the paper will focus on the processes of creation, circulation and use of knowledge in the workplaces, in the idea that the quality of informational basis of organizational choices (to paraphrase Amartya Sen's words) play a crucial role in order to convert participation in decision-making process in workplace democracy, in perspective of agency of people.