Workplace – Democracy: Reclaiming the Effort to Foster Public and Private Isomorphism

Guy Mundlak


The idea of workplace democracy is to apply public-related institutions in the sphere of private enterprise, thereby creating a process of isomorphism between public and private entities. One formulation of this idea argues that the workplace is a community in which democratic values and institutions should be implemented, while another formulation claims that the organization of the workplace is important to the quality of democracy at the state level. Despite the host of justifications and a plurality of institutions that are associated with workplace democracy, there has been a gradual move away from tying democracy and work in favor of a liberal script that acknowledges the need to prescribe some employment-related rights, but keeps the private and public separate. The Article attributes this change to two processes - marketization and globalization, both affecting the sense of community in which democratic practices prevail, whether the place of work or the state. However, the Article identifies a growing reliance on process-based law that governs work. Process-based law integrates proceduralism - that is, norms that require public values such as due process, visibility, accountability and deliberations; and layering - the congruence of norms at multiple levels that engage a diverse set of agents. This new emphasis in labor law, broadly defined, provides an opportunity for reintroducing democratic values and practices throughout different spheres that are associated with the world of work.

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