Participation versus consent: should corporations be run according to democratic principles?

Stefan Hielscher, Markus Beckmann, Ingo Pies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The notion of "democracy" has become a much-debated concept in scholarship on business ethics, management, and organization studies. The strategy of this paper is to distinguish between a principle of organization that fosters participation (type I democracy) and a principle of legitimation that draws on consent (type II democracy). Based on this distinction, we highlight conceptual shortcomings of the literature on stakeholder democracy. We demonstrate that parts of the literature tend to confound ends with means. Many approaches employ type I democracy notions of participation and often take for granted that this also improves type II democratic legitimation. We hold this to be a mistake. We provide examples of the ambiguity of organizational procedures and show that under some circumstances a decrease in the degree of participation may actually increase legitimation because a governance structure that results in higher productivity can provide higher benefits for all parties involved, serve their interests and therefore meet their agreement. Less type I democracy may mean more type II democracy. We believe this to be an important insight for judging (and further improving) the legitimacy of both capitalistic firms and competitive markets.

LanguageEnglish
Pages533-563
Number of pages31
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Fingerprint

Democracy
Participation
Consent
Legitimation
Governance structure
Ethics management
Stakeholders
Competitive market
Productivity
Organization studies
Legitimacy
Management studies
Business ethics
Mistakes
Business Ethics
Governance

Keywords

  • Consent
  • Constitutional economics
  • Democracy
  • Legitimacy
  • Participation
  • Stakeholder theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Philosophy
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

Cite this

Participation versus consent : should corporations be run according to democratic principles? / Hielscher, Stefan; Beckmann, Markus; Pies, Ingo.

In: Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4, 01.10.2014, p. 533-563.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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