The Impact Of Employees Participation In Decision Making And Organisational Productivity


Decision-making permeates all aspect of the management process.  To every manager therefore, notwithstanding his/her level in the organization, the importance of decision-making can never be over-emphasised.

So also is the need for participation of employees in the such managerial decision participation may be through of as the growing and receiving of information, advice and suggestions and the sharing of experience among members of an organization.  In management, it particularly applies to allowing employee (5) to have a voice in shaping policies, procedures and processes that directly or indirectly affect them.  It therefore, can be seen as a sharing process among managers and employee.

However, in the process of sharing employees must be able to display an upward exertion of control over management decisions.  According to Guest and Fat Chart (1974), the situation where there is to be a sharing of decision making may be no more than a means thereby management controls the situation.  The work force employees are allowed to “say” as long as what they say has the agreement of management than they are taken away.  Employees exertion of control should lead to management alteration or abandonment of plans posed plan that affect the employees.

Participation of employees in managerial decision making is not applicable to all organization.  Varying leadership style is characterized by the centralization of the decision making process on the manager himself being an Antarctic leader.  The manager is seen as one who commands and expects compliance.  The dominant force involved is power.  However, since the managers get things done, performance of employees as expected is always minimal.

Participation should not be though of a single process activity but rather as a whole range of processes and activities.  Tannebaum and Schmidt, (1974), described it as a continuum of process ranging from the autocratic leadership style as also described as free rein management because of its very little control or in a modified form as put forward by Keith Davis


It is seen that between those two extreme of participation are various other methods of participation.  These are the benevolent autocracy consultative management, participation committees and democratic management.  Mergers (1960), described benevolent autocracy when he said:

A group managers view participation as a useful as they had in their managerial tricks.  It is for them a manipulative device for getting people to do what they want under conditions which delude the participation into thinking, they so skillfully that they come up with the answer which the manager had in the first place, but believing it was the in its own.

The participate/democratic managers possess the decision making itself to his group with himself as a member.

However, before doing so he defines the boundaries within which the decision must be made.  It is assumed that growing or sharing of information is an essential slip in the process of participation and one of the first in moving toward more complete participation.  A management therefore, depending on the people under him and the situation at hand, must vary his participate approaches.

According to Guest and Knight, (1960), some observers have notes that while a continuum is a useful way of conceptualizing participation, it does not in itself provide a definition.  Furthermore, if a definition does not use a control, then some of the approaches falling on the continuum could not be classified as genuine participation.  The authors referred to Pitman who used the term “pseuco”, – participation to refer to information giving and either forms of activity where worker influence is minimal and which, at worst, might therefore be a little more than sophisticated schemes of man, a garment manipulation.  The concept of participation must be distinguished from delegation even though both terms seemingly are the same.  Although, its terms of participation and delegation, the manager feels he is giving away “something” especially a thing that will weaken his position, but terms are still at variance with each other.  Delegation involves the assignment of duties, authority and responsibility to subordinate.  It is the vesting of decision making powers in the subordinate.  Unlike participation, where the manager receives the right to make the main decision and responsibility for such decision so made.


There are generally three principal factors that influence the concept of participation.  These are the organization, employee, and manager.

The organization:  For effective participation to take place, the organization must provide a psychological climate conducive for participation.  That means firstly, that it must initiate and encourage a two-way flow of information.  If information is directed only one way down, there is no meaningful exchange between management and employees can take place.

Secondly, the organization attitudes towards its employee to participate effectively, he must be made to feel that his opinion and ideas mean “something” that he is valued both as a person or an employee.  As a general route, theory x management philosophy tends to stifle participation where as the theory offers substantial opportunities forego satisfaction for the employee and thus can affect motivation towards organization objectives.

The Manager:  As a way of encouraging effective employee participation in decision makings, the manager must operate a two-way communication flow.  These efforts to encourage participation must be sincere and the freedom he can allow employees in making decision concerning work in department must not exceed the guidelines established by the organization.  He must always remember that participation does not relieve him of authority or his responsibility for making decision.  The last word rests with him.

The Employee:  The degree to which an employee is allowed to participate in decision making depends to a great extent on his background and training.  If the employee has no background on the subject being discussed, in other words, no knowledge and competence with respect to the problem these opinions and suggestions will have little values.  In spite of this, however, his advice can be used to identify area of concern and collection of information.


Certain conditions must be met before participation while some exist in their environment.

Davis (1981 p. 158) listed the major prerequisites as follows:

  1. There must be time to participate before action is required for participation is hardly appraise in every situations.
  2. The potential benefits of participation should be greater than its costs. For example, employees cannot spend so much time participating that ignore their work.
  3. The subject must be relevant to the employee environment, otherwise employees will look up on its merely as busy work.
  4. The participants should have the ability such as intelligence and knowledge to participate. It is hardly advisable, for example to ask janitors in a pharmaceutical laboratory to participate research priority, but they might participate in helping resolve other problem related to their work.
  5. Neither party should feel that its positions is threatening by participation. If workers think their status will not participate.  Similarly, if managers feel that their authority is threatened, they will refuse participation or will be defensive.
  6. Restraints in this contest include the framework within which the group makes decisions and such decision cannot violate policy, collective bargaining agreements and legal requirements. Restraints also include obstacles due to the physical environment and due to ones own limitation such as understanding electronic Tannacbumetal (1980 pg. 166) added to his list of prerequisites by stating that participation should occur if,
  7. The subordinate have relatively high need for independents.
  8. The subordinate have a readiness to assume responsibility for decision making.
  9. They have a relatively high tolerance for ambiguity, (some employees prefer to have a clear cut directives given to them, others prefer a wider area of freedom).

There are notable two different ways in which employee can take part in decision that affect them.  These are direct and indirect way.

Direct participation involves the individual himself relating to decision that concern him.

Indirect participation centres on people representing that employees in decision that affect them.  Although, our focus is on direct participation, it is still expedient to discuss the indirect.


The two ways that have been established as the dormant means of “indirect of participation” with the enterprises are:

(a)     Collective bargaining

(b)     Joint Consultation.




This form of participation is normally carried out between employees of their representative and other representatives (that come in the form of trade unions).  Its primary purpose is purely economic.  The Nigeria Federal Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity defined it as, negotiations between an employer, a group of employers and one or more employers organizations.  On the one hand or more, representative workers organization on the hand with a view to reaching agreement.

This definition was supported by the British Ministry of Labour when it is said that collective bargaining is applied to those arrangement under which wages and conditions of employment are settled by a bargain in the form of an agreement between employers or association of employers and worker or organizations.  In the height of this, the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has come out with its own definition of collective bargaining.

(i)      To enhance the achievement of increased productivity by involving the workers through their representative, in the planning of production process.

(ii)     To set up a scheme for regular contact between management and workers such is a means of improving communication and thereby lessening the interest and suspicion of the workers towards management plans and objectives.

(iii)    To meet the workers demand for better insight land voice into the management of the organization for which they work.  In his way, a moral right would be satisfied and increased co-operation and efficiency would result.

Nevertheless, joint consultation has found useful in area such as planning of menu for workers canteens, and shift-work arrangement and also the safety and health of workers engage in production.


This is a new form of employee participation in decision-making that has emerged in recent time and is gaining much ground through mostly in the advanced countries.  It was first started in West Germany in the early 1950, and since then has been spreading.  Appointment of employees to company board, the writer agrees, should be according to efficiency and competence criteria although expedient evidence of competence.


Although, we have stated the different forms of direct participation, it must not be assumed that employees in general love participation need to be geared to the values, the skill and the expectation of the people involved if productive results area to be obtained.  According to Davis (1960 p. 165).  Some employees desire more participation than others.  Educated and higher level worker typically seek more participation because they tend to have lower performance, less satisfaction, lower self-esteem.  More stress and other symptoms of tension and dissatisfaction.  However, some people desire a minimum participation and re not upset because they lack it.  He added that the difference between ones desire and actual participation given a measure of the match between a company’s practices and individuals they have, they are anticipatively deprives and there is under-participation.

Conversely, when they want, they are particularly “saturated” and there is over participation.  He then concluded by stating that where there is either under-participation or over-participation, people are less satisfied than those who participate to a degree that matches their need.  Therefore, participation is not something that should be applied equally to everyone, rather it should match their needs.


The labour union view and attitude of participation are not left out.  Some writers have suggested that unions are often highly suspicious and some times strongly opposed to direct forms of participation for two main reasons.

Firstly, management usually does its introduction and this initiative in itself is sufficient raise double about the aim of the exercise.

Secondly, it may appear to divert workers interest from representative form of participation and from which the union draw part of their strength.  The other works blows the conflict that exists between the union and management linked to this, the gains to be derived from direct participation are more likely to accrue to management and the work force them to the unions as such.  Also some union leaders fear that if workers participate in helping management decide course of actions, the unions ability to challenge these actions is weakened.  From this, it is seen according to Gest Knight (1981, p. 10) that direct participation represents a potential wedge between the workers and their unions, raining genuine fears of a fragmentation of collective workers power and influence.


Constraints have been defined as all those elements or features of an organization, which impinge on employees to decide or limit the behavioural contents of their work.  They come in various dimensions, the preconditions for effective participation mentioned earlier, to some extent are limitation but there are others.

The view and traditions of an organization can pose a constraint to a new manager in an organization.  These views and traditions influence the behaviour of the people who work in them and the management may discover that to deviate radically from them is likely to create problems for him.  Some organization, for example insist that their managers must be dynamic, imaginative, decisive, and persuasion.  Other organization emphasize on the importance of the manager’s ability to work with others.  Therefore, idea of organizational members, especially, idea of managers superior of who the desirable executive should be well, push the manager towards one end or the other of the participation.

The size of the working units of the organization include their geographic distribution is another constraint to participation.  Some managers have very limited subordinates, which in some cases, make participation impracticable.  Similarly, the wide geographical dispersion of the organization may make a system of participation decision making impossible.

The current organizational climate will influence the amount of confidence and trivets that exist.  That is why in some organization, the introduction of work committees by management is seen by employees as another illustration of management manipulation and thereby is doomed to failure.


Many writers see participation as a way of improving employee moral and effectiveness (productivity).  Managers who allow subordinates to participate in their decision achieve a better result than those that keep subordinates arm length.  According to Patchen (1986), most studies indicate that when employees are encouraged and provided the proper setting to decide for themselves or in combination with others, how their work should be done, their motivation to do the work is likely to be considerable enhanced.

Davis (1981, p. 153) listed the potential benefits of participation, which makes it indispensable as including higher output, better quality of work, higher job satisfaction, greater commitment to goals, better acceptance of change less absence, reduced stress and turnover and greater self esteem.


Some writers postulate that there are some risks connected with participation, McGregor (1960, p.125) stated the usual fear is that if employees are given an opportunity to influence decision effecting them, they will soon want to participate in matters, which should be none of their concern.

However, he was quick to country this argument, he added that management who express this fear most acutely tend to have a very narrow conception with their growth of employees and their increasing ability to undertake responsibility, there will of course be an expectation that employees will become involved in an increasing range of decision making activities.


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