University of Missouri School of Law

Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution

Democracy in the Workplace Initiative

History and Vision

Vision:  A workplace that reflects democratic values.  Workplaces can be more efficient and effective for management and employees when operated consistent with traditional democratic values, such as personal autonomy, accountability, and participation in workplace decisions.  The nurturing of these values will foster a workplace environment in which there is greater trust, teamwork, and support and positive results for the organization.

While some of our projects are geared towards the public sector, the Initiative itself has a broad scope, including private and no-profit workplace environments, as well.


The Democracy in the Workplace Initiative evolved from informal discussions held by alternative dispute resolution administrators in the federal sector and others who were seeking ways to bring deeper meaning to their work and greater value to their organizations.

In 2005, the Interagency ADR Working Group (IADRWG) Workplace Subcommittee had been discussing how to bring greater depth to their dispute resolution programs.

In January 2006, the IADRWG subcommittee next sponsored "Democracy in the Workplace," presented by Richard Reuben, associate professor of law at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.  See the Power Point from this program.

Having continued informal discussion, the original group organized a Breakfast Discussion at the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Meeting in April 2006.  See the charts of Questions and Next Steps generated by the group at this session.  With the assistance of Judy Cohen, this led to the establishment of an informal advisory group to focus on federal sector applications, and the beginning of formal structure for proceeding as an entity. The entity would be based at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. Richard Reuben would be its Director.



We welcome your input as we continue to develop our work.