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Building Workplace Democracy

Young-Hyman, Trevor (2020) Building Workplace Democracy. In: Pitt Momentum Fund 2020, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Unpublished)

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This project seeks to understand how members of an organization transition from a centralized power structure to organizational democracy. Worker cooperatives, credit unions, grocery cooperatives, professional partnerships, and utility cooperatives are all examples of democratically governed organizations, where formal power is evenly distributed across the membership. Democratic organizations are often touted as an exemplary form of socially responsible business, as they have been shown to expand access to market opportunities, reduce poverty, improve wages, and increase employment stability, among various socially beneficial outcomes. Yet, the relative rarity of organizational democracy, the importance of strong leadership in organizations, and the tendency for hierarchy to emerge in growing organizations leave us with little understanding of the processes with which democratic organizations emerge. In this project, I will use ethnographic methods, quantitative text analysis, and qualitative video analysis to inductively develop theory about the emergence of organizational democracy. I will study a nascent democratic organization in Pittsburgh, where I have negotiated permission to collect audio and video recordings of meetings, interview workers, observe the day-to-day life of the organization, access archival documents, and scrape chat data from their online platform. I have been collecting preliminary, background data in this organization since 2018. In 2020, I will engage in a one year period of intensive data collection. I will hire and train an undergraduate research assistant who will participate in the firm’s daily life and collect data. I will also set up a video and audio recording system that the company has agreed to operate during its meetings, so that we are able to collect data when we are not present. The company is motivated to set up this system as a means to improve governance and increase transparency with worker owners. Ultimately, this project will serve as a proof of concept for future data collection. A city-wide taskforce has been established and funded to build the population of democratic organizations in the City of Pittsburgh. If this project is successful, as a member of the taskforce, I will expand this data collection to the broader set of nascent firms.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Young-Hyman, Trevortrevoryh@katz.pitt.edutry60000-0003-2111-3189
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Office of Sponsored Research > Pitt Momentum Fund
Date: 2020
Event Title: Pitt Momentum Fund 2020
Event Type: Other
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.18117/rhy8-9m15
Schools and Programs: College of Business Administration > Business Administration
Refereed: No
Other ID: 3428
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2020 16:30
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 19:27


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