17 March 2009

Approaches to employee participation

When hunting for information on the web about worker co-operatives I often come across examples of employee participation in other countries. Here are two recent finds.

Semco - Ricardo Semler (wiki entry)
In 1982 at the age of 24, Ricardo Semler took control of Semler & Company, a business founded and managed by his father. He set about dramatically reorganising the structure: eliminated all secretarial positions, dismantled managerial structures to eliminate "corporate oppression" and encouraged core business values of employee participation, profit sharing and a free flow of information.

Employee Survival Guide (Semco website)
Case Study

W. L. Gore & Associates
There are no traditional organisational charts, no chains of command, nor predetermined channels of communication. Associates (not employees) are hired for general work areas. Assoicates are guided by "sponsors" (not bosses) and after they have a certain level of understanding of the corporate culture and team objectives. They organise themselves and commit to projects that match their skills.

"We communicate directly with each other and are accountable to fellow members of our multi-disciplined teams. We encourage hands-on innovation, involving those closest to a project in decision making. Teams organize around opportunities and leaders emerge. This unique kind of corporate structure has proven to be a significant contributor to associate satisfaction and retention."

Have you come across interesting international examples?

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