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West German Experience with Industrial Democracy

Friedrich Fürstenberg
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 431, Industrial Democracy in International Perspective (May, 1977), pp. 44-53
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1042033
Page Count: 10
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West German Experience with Industrial Democracy
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Abstract

The prevailing forms of industrial democracy in West Germany and the proposals for its further development cannot be encompassed in a single integrated system. There are few basic issues of industrial democracy which do not contain a complex interlocking of regulative norms, contractual relationships, and cooperative activities. A genuine German development is codetermination or Mitbestimmung. In order to evaluate its proper significance it is necessary to differentiate between shop floor and board levels, between the institutions of works councils, labor directors on management boards, and worker representatives on supervisory boards. The greatest achievement in industrial relations, largely due to the works councils, is perhaps the establishment of a reasonably well functioning grievance and negotiation machinery within the individual plant and the larger corporation. Codetermination in supervisory boards has not undermined profit orientation as a criterion of performance, but employee representatives have been able to obtain proper consideration of the social aspects of work. There are limits in a system based mainly on statutory measures. More personal involvement and more self-government at workplace level might be on the agenda for the near future.

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