‘Supportive Participation’ is a term used to describe a formal role for workers in all phases of the decision‐making process except the final ‘vote’, on activities that affect their immediate work environment. These include problem origination as well as the generation of alternatives, activities which necessitate an active partnership between workers and staff. Final decisions for action are left to management. A typology of ‘participation’ is developed — these include seven factors which are grouped under ‘Category’ and ‘Extent’ dimensions. The paper reviews past examples of Supportive Participation, which include the programmes: Work Simplification, the Japanese ‘Quality Circles’ and the Scanlon Plan. Supportive Participation is directed towards jointly raising productivity and the ‘quality of working life’ and some proposals for new ways to apply the approach more effectively are presented.
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