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