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Why is Participation Production not the Norm? A Prisoners’' Dilemma in the Choice of Work Organisation


  • Cable, John


Research suggests that there are potential mutual gains to be had from participatory production, yet traditional non-participatory organisation remains the norm in Western economies, and participatory 'alternatives' constitute a deviation. The paper argues that this apparent non-realisation of mutually beneficial outcomes by rational economic agents may be explained with the aid of a prisoners' dilemma game framework, which provides an insightful new way of looking at the participation issue. Two conceptually separate origins of potential participatory gains are distinguished, in 'efficient bargaining' effects and in technology shifts ; and an important distinction between 'ultimate' and 'effective' technology is made. Public policy intervention to promote participation, it is argued, is not ipso facto a denial of mutual social gains, and may be necessary to secure them.

Suggested Citation

  • Cable, John, 1986. "Why is Participation Production not the Norm? A Prisoners’' Dilemma in the Choice of Work Organisation," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 272, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:272

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Svejnar, Jan, 1986. "Bargaining Power, Fear of Disagreement, and Wage Settlements: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1055-1078, September.
    2. Oswald, A. J., 1995. "Efficient contracts are on the labour demand curve: Theory and facts," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 102-102, March.
    3. Sampson, Anthony A, 1983. "Employment Policy in a Model with a Rational Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 93(37), pages 297-311, June.
    4. Gylfason, Thorvaldur & Lindbeck, Assar, 1984. "Union Rivalry and Wages: An Oligopolistic Approach," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(202), pages 129-139, May.
    5. McDonald, Ian M & Solow, Robert M, 1981. "Wage Bargaining and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 896-908, December.
    6. repec:fth:prinin:175 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Oswald, Andrew J, 1982. "The Microeconomic Theory of the Trade Union," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(367), pages 576-595, September.
    8. Martin J. Osborne, 1984. "Capitalist-Worker Conflict and Involuntary Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 111-127.
    9. Andrew Oswald, 1984. "Efficient Contracts are on the Labour Demand Curve: Theory and Facts," Working Papers 555, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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