Workplace Democracy Term Paper

Pages: 13 (3519 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business

Workplace Democracy

The issue of workplace democracy has long been a topic of debate. Some companies have developed a corporate structure with the concept of workplace democracy as its nucleus. The purpose of this discussion is to describe what workplace democracy is and how organizations effectively foster a climate of workplace democracy. The Organizations that will be assessed include Google, Jet Blue, Nike, Starbucks and eBay. Let us begin our discussion by defining workplace democracy and the purpose it plays in the development of a successful company.

Workplace Democracy

There are many different definitions of the subject at hand, according to Holtzhausen (2002) Workplace democracy is defined as system of governance which truly values individual goals and feelings (e.g., equitable remuneration, the pursuit of enriching work and the right to express oneself) as well as typically organization objectives (e.g., effectiveness and efficiency, reflectively conceived), which actively fosters the comnnection between those two sets of concerns by encouraging individual contributions to important organizational choices, and which allows for the ongoing modification of the organizations activities and policies by the group (Holtzhausen 2002, pg 32).

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The article also asserts that workplace democracy serves as a necessary agent in challenging economic times. According to the author workplace democracy is necessary because it creates cohesion for an organization in times that are uncertain (Holtzhausen 2002). In addition, many supporters of workplace democracy view it as the only viable alternative to the types of authoritarian practices that were prevalent in the past (Holtzhausen 2002).

Term Paper on Workplace Democracy Assignment

The author explains that there are for different dimensions of workplace democracy which include organizational level, degree of control, range of issues, and company ownership (Holtzhausen 2002). The organizational level dimension of workplace democracy involves where the actual participation takes place (ie individual, work group or industry level). The degree of control involves a consultative position in which workers present management with ideas and opinions (Holtzhausen 2002). The range of issues dimension of workplace democracy refers to whether the issues in the workplace are restricted to the immediate task environment or extended to macro organizational decisions as it relates to wages and personnel (Holtzhausen 2002). Finally, the company ownership dimension of workplace democracy involves such issues as stock ownership plans.

The author goes on to assert that workplace democracy necessitates good and fluid communication (Holtzhausen 2002). The article asserts that the amount of communication in the workplace is a sign of the extent of democracy in that workplace (Holtzhausen 2002).

According to the author "Communication in its democratic form is productive rather than reproductive (Holtzhausen 2002)."

Holtzhausen 2002 also asserts that workplace democracy improves information flow at all levels of an organization. In addition, workplace democracy improves employee satisfaction. The author points out that workplace democracy is also beneficial because it improves that organization's ability to change and adapt quickly and thus remain competitive. Now that we understand more about workplace democracy let us discuss workplace democracy at Google, Ebay, Starbucks, Nike and Jetblue.


Google is one of the most innovative and successful businesses of the 21st century (Company Overview). The company was created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin who developed a new method of searching the internet (Company Overview). This new creation took place in a dorm room at Stanford University and rapidly broadened to include information seekers around the world. As a result the company is now the largest and most successful search engine available on the internet (Company Overview).

A large part of the success of Google is related to the corporate culture which utilizes workplace democracy. According to the company's official website although the company is now worth billions the business still has a small company feel. The company's headquarters is known as the Googleplex and is located in Mountain View, California (The Google Culture).

The atmosphere is laid back and the workplace is very inclusive and participatory. For instance

Google's emphasis on innovation and commitment to cost containment means each employee is a hands-on contributor. There's little in the way of corporate hierarchy and everyone wears several hats. The international webmaster who creates Google's holiday logos spent a week translating the entire site into Korean. The chief operations engineer is also a licensed neurosurgeon. Because everyone realizes they are an equally important part of Google's success, no one hesitates to skate over a corporate officer during roller hockey (The Google Culture)."

Additionally workplace democracy can also be seen in the manner in which the structure of the offices are non-traditional (The Google Culture). For example, "Googlers work in high density clusters remarkably reflective of our server setup, with three or four staffers sharing spaces with couches and dogs. This improves information flow and saves on heating bills (The Google Culture)."

In addition the company is committed to hiring employees with high levels of ability even if they have limited experience. As a result of this the company's staff is extremely diverse. The company also has offices throughout the world and is committed to recruiting people from places around the world (The Google Culture). As a result of this policy Google employees speak a variety of languages.

The company boasts a fun atmosphere at the googleplex which includes such activities as basketball, tennis and roller hockey can be found at the googleplex (The Google Culture).

Workplace democracy at Google can also be found in the stock options that employees were given prior to the company going public. As a result of the stock options given to employees, many of the company's early employees became millionaires when the company went public. Not only did going public benefit the company but it also benefited employees that had worked hard for many years to make the company successful. When employees are treated this well it is beneficial to the entire company because the employees are secure in their jobs which allows them to perform their jobs well.

The approach to employees present at Google has fostered a climate of workplace democracy in several ways. For instance, the company's hiring practices incorporate an intentional policy of diversity because Google serves people all around the world, who speak different languages and have different customs. By employing people from the various regions of the world not only is Google better able to serve customers but it also allows employees to voice their opinions about certain Google policies. Having the ability to do so enhances the products that the company offers and it also gives employees the confidence to address issues concerning cultural and religious sensitivity that some at Google may not be aware of.

In addition, the laid back atmosphere of the company and the participatory nature of the business allow employees to get involved in various aspects of the business. This fosters workplace democracy because it allows workers to choose what types of projects they want to be involved with and ultimately Google will have a core staff that is interchangeable and can quickly adjust to changes in the industry.


Like Google, EBay has been able to thrive with an innovative business design. EBay serves as the world largest online auction site. The company was founded in September of 1995 and describes itself as "The World's Online Marketplace® for the sale of goods and services by a diverse community of individuals and small businesses. Today, the eBay community includes more than a hundred million registered members from around the world. People spend more time on eBay than any other online site, making it the most popular shopping destination on the Internet (Company Overview)."

The site sells everything from apparel to rare artwork. Ebay has mastered the art of allowing merchants to make a full time living through ebay. Ebay is unique in its design because the merchants are not employees of Ebay but the company benefits from fees associated with listings, sells and stores that the merchants own.

Because of the unique nature of Ebay's business strategy workplace democracy take on a new form. However. Ebay does offer some benefits that are similar to that of other companies. These benefits include "health coverage -- including dental and vision, tuition reimbursement and paid vacation -- we offer a generous 401(k) plan with company match, stock options with four years vesting, a discounted stock purchase plan, and bonuses based upon team performance (Full Spectrum of benefits 2005)."

Although Ebay is an extremely successful company it has been plagued with scandal. One such scandal took place among German Ebay employees who felt that there rights were being violated through the use of a technology known as Blue Pumpkin. Blue Pumpkin is activity manager software is a multi-channel adherence solution that collects data on how employees are actually spending their time throughout the day, tracking activity across all contact channels, including the phone, e-mail, chat, voice-over-IP, as well as research, training, and administrative tasks. The centralized tracking and reporting enables managers to immediately see any discrepancies between schedules and actual activity, and can quickly make necessary adjustments including authorizing adherence exceptions (ePay -… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Workplace Democracy" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Workplace Democracy.  (2005, October 25).  Retrieved May 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Workplace Democracy."  25 October 2005.  Web.  30 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Workplace Democracy."  October 25, 2005.  Accessed May 30, 2020.