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Should companies be run more democratically?

On Deutschlandfunk radio, Anke Hassel cites pros and cons of giving workers a stronger voice in company decisions.

On German radio Deutschlandfunk, Hertie School Professor of Public Policy Anke Hassel speaks about the recent DemocratizingWork "manifesto" which calls for social and ecological reforms to the workplace, and was signed by thousands of academics worldwide. The idea is to democratise the workplace and give workers equal say with management in important company decisions. Hassel says that while companies with greater employee participation tend to be better run, she has some doubts about giving employees veto rights on company boards. Employee participation is "a very valuable asset," says Hassel. "We know from research that co-determined companies are better managed." What the manifesto demands, however, is a "co-determination plus", which she says goes a step too far. "They want to give employees a veto right when it comes to business models or the appointment of board members." This could give employees the ability to reject every proposal from management or investors, which might  "...overburden employee representatives if they were to be able to determine the fate of the company more or less on their own." In terms of supporting the environment, employee interests might also conflict with environmental concerns, she argues, for example as it did recently in Germany when auto workers favored introducing a buyer's premium to sell combustion engine cars to make up  for losses from the pandemic.

Listen to the full interview on Deutschlandfunk here.

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