Workers’ Participation at Plant Level in a Comparative Perspective

  • Ludger PriesEmail author


Ludger Pries provides an integrated analytical framework for comparing different forms of contemporary worker participation at the plant level. Even though the twentieth century witnessed a significant growth of social rights, he argues that we are still facing great challenges regarding the implementation and extension of participative democracy at the workplace, especially since the end of the Cold War. Pries demonstrates how globalizing economies have contributed to the need to reconceptualize labor relations and for new institutions beyond the national levels. He also shows how different modes of worker participation have developed across the world, for example, on the basis of a more direct involvement through teamwork or on indirect involvement through councils. This chapter introduces a number of crucial issues, including arenas of collective bargaining, dominant actor groups, labor regulation, sources of power, shared ideology, cognitive maps, and different types of conflict resolutions. In comparing the paradigmatic examples of China and Germany, Pries refers to the structural tensions amongst the key actors in labor relations. Moreover, he compares in some detail a number of European Union (EU) member states. In his conclusion, he summarizes the opportunities as well as challenges of workers’ participation. In terms of opportunities, worker participation could help, for instance, to channel inter- and intragroup conflicts in the working area, stabilize the development of companies, and increase motivation and commitment of workers. On the other side, worker participation often challenges unions and other external collective actors by raising an intra-labor conflict on the question of who controls what. Participation at plant level also could stabilize unbalanced distribution of resources (e.g., between insiders and outsiders). Pries proposes that new dynamics and social mechanisms might help to counterbalance such challenges. For instance, new social movements or Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) could function as external monitors.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesRuhr University BochumBochumGermany

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