Semco & Freys : A multiple-case study of workplace democracy
This case study aims to find out what characterizes the Brazilian company Semco and the Swedish company Freys hotels as private owned democratic companies, and whether the mechanisms used to apply and carry on the democratic process are sufficient or not to truly make the workplaces democratic. The way this study is conducted, is by analyzing the definition of workplace democracy and its managerial approaches. To be able to map and study the democratic process in the companies, the authors chose to analyze the parts of the organization that sustain democracy. These parts are structure, information/communication process, individuals and decision-making.
The theories applied, are theoretical thoughts and definitions of the managerial approaches (empowerment and participation) used to introduce democracy at the workplace. In addition a political framework for analyzing democracy is used. Five previous studies were also highlighted in the theory chapter, in order to reinforce the authors’ choice of theories and give a broaden understanding of the subject studied in this essay. For analysis, seven hypotheses characterizing a democratic company and the use of workplace democracy were tested. The analysis was carried out using collected primary and secondary data from books, articles, interviews and inquiries with employees from Semco and Freys Hotels. Another interview was conducted with Professor Carl Von Otter at the National Institute for Working Life, who explained the meaning of a democratic corporation.
The results show that the hypotheses can be used to describe workplace democracy. However, the managerial approaches are not sufficient to make a company democratic since
they can be used in order to restrain employee participation. Participation and involvement should be the basic idea that comes with employment. Another conclusion from the study is that the application and success of workplace democracy depends on the national context.
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