University of Missouri School of Law

Center for the  Study of Dispute Resolution

Democracy in the Workplace Initiative

The American workplace is in the midst of a major shift away from old bureaucratic, top-down, employer-driven systems to more dynamic partnerships between companies and their employees.

There are many social, technological and other reasons for these changes. But at the heart of the "new" workplace are democratic values long associated with the public sphere. These include familiar political democratic values, such as the promotion of personal autonomy, participation, accountability, transparency, and rationality. They also include such legal values as equality and due process. Finally, they include  social capital values, such as trust, social connection, cooperation and reciprocity, and civic virtue.

The Democracy in the Workplace Initiative is based on the belief that the wise promotion of these values will provide important support for the new workplace, yielding important benefits for both employees and management.  Its aim is to provide a clearinghouse for information for interested parties, to bring important new empirical and theoretical research to the practice community, and to provide technical assistance to workplaces seeking to foster these values.