ABSTRACT

Participation, as a concept and as a practice, has been a long and hotly contested notion. Less than 20 years ago an eminent German social critic deemed it synonymous with "the new name of the future" (Dirks, 1969). At around the same time a Dutch organizational scientist called participation the most vital organization problem of our time and expressed his astonishment at the fact that so little and theoretically so meager research had been conducted on the issue (Mulder, 1971). And after 35 years of statutorily regulated participation (co-determination) in German enterprises, a wellknown industrialist flatly claims: "Co-determination was an error" (Mohn. Die Zeit, 4 April 1986).