The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Democracy should apply to businesses

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/29/2017 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 680 times Debate No: 101512
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
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I will argue that businesses should be democratically controlled. My opponent will argue they shouldn't be.

Rules of debate
1) Be civil, no ad hominem, personal attacks, insults
2) The total number of rounds minus one should be used for argument. This is to keep the total number of rounds used for argument even between us since I am not using round 1 for argument.
3) The last round of debate should just be rebuttal to your opponent's arguments and/or conclusion. No new arguments in this round.

Democracy: Control of a group or organization through voting by all of the members of that group or organization, or through voting for representatives of the members.
Business: an organizational entity involved in the provision of goods and services to consumers



Hello! I am very excited to get this debate started. I disagree with your point of view and will gladly debate against it.
Debate Round No. 1


So, I wish to stress that I am not suggesting that the society as a whole should have a say over every business. Rather, that the business itself should be structured democratically. Essentially, this will be a debate regarding cooperatives, since cooperatives are democratic businesses.

There is a general belief in self-rule and having a say over policies that affect you, so why does this not apply to work life?
Businesses make decisions all of the time that affect the workers of that company. Those workers have no say over the decision whatsoever. Now, I suppose one could argue that workers have a choice of what company to work for, so if they don't like the decisions one company makes, they can go to another company. The problem with this, however, is there is no guarantee that other business they go to won't make the same decision or even a worse decision. You don't really have a choice in the matter, and it's up to random chance whether a business you work for will implement policies that you agree with. Why leave it up to random chance?

So, why is this tolerated? Why are people subjected to authority that they had no say over, which they can't control, and which affects their everyday lives? Is it truly just? I argue it is not based on the grounds of democracy. We would all probably agree that a democratic means of rule is the most just means of rule. Whether it comes to what a school club will do, people voting in that club for what activities to hold is generally the thing most people would be satisfied with rather than having the club president decide everything. At the very least, if it is the president that decides this, they may have been elected by the club members. The decision making process in a relationship usually is seen to be best when both people in the romantic relationship get a vote or a say over what they will do. It's seen as a terrible and one-sided relationship when one of the people in the relationship gets to boss around the other one and tell them what to do. Government is similar in this respect, people get to vote for their representatives in government and have at least some say over the policies that apply to them in life. Work is just about the only place that people seem to think is an exception to this rule of favoring democracy. Organized religion is another exception to that rule, but that's for another debate. The question is, why is work an exception? I would like to challenge my opponent to offer good reasons why work is an exception to the idea of favoring democracatic rule in everyday life.

When democracy is applied to businesses, those businesses tend to be better in several ways:
1) Democratic businesses are more productive than traditional businesses. Let us compare the productivity of traditional companies, those in which workers have no say over the decision-making process of the company, with that of worker co-ops, where the workers are the joint-owners of the company and democratically vote on decisions for the company. It has been found in a study conducted by Ben Craig, of the federal reserve bank of Cleveland, and John Pencavel, of Standford University, that worker cooperatives within the plywood industry are more materially productive than traditional firms[1, pg 124]. The reasons they believe for this are because:

A. "A co-op mitigates the agency cost associated with a corporation's division between ownership and control". Since co-ops are owned by the workers, they are much more likely to be informed about the business decisions than if they weren't owners, thus there is no need to spend extra time from business owners to educate them on this matter.[1, pgs 124-125)

B. Worker co-ops eliminate "the separation of interests between workers and owners."[1 pg 125] As one can imagine, there are many instances in which a conventional firm would be presented with opportunities where they can make a decision that more benefits them and harms the workers. The workers would be opposed to this, and normally what happens in a conventional firm, is that bargaining goes on and this takes up precious time that could be devoted to work. In a co-op, this bargaining would not take place, since worker-owners would likely choose what benefits the majority of the workers, whereas in a traditional business, the owner would choose what only benefits themselves.

C. Workers are able to monitor each other better than in traditional businesses where the monitor is a single manager [1, pgs 125-126]. This makes sense as well, since in co-ops, the workers are the ones who make the decisions of the company, and would be involved in hiring and firing other workers. Co-workers are more often among their co-workers than a manager is, so they would be able to monitor their co-workers more effectively than a manager. This provides incentive for each worker to provide their best work and not laze around.

So, when workers are given democratic control of the company, it turns out those companies tend to be more productive than when they don't have democratic control! Interesting, isn't it?

2) Democratic businesses tend to be more successful than non-democratic businesses, including in providing more jobs, higher wages for the employees, and surviving longer than traditional firms. For example, 80% of cooperatives survive the first 5 years of being in business, compared to 41% of the traditional business model. [2, pg 8]

In a comparative study performed by Gabriel Burdin and Andres Dean, where they looked into how cooperatives performed in the Uruguayan economic crisis between 1999-2001, it was found that "average employment and wages in WCs[worker cooperatives] tend to be greater than in CFs[capitalist firms]." [3, pg. 522] The wage being higher definitely makes sense, since in a worker-cooperative, there is no person at the top taking a percentage of the business profits as their own, personal, income. Instead, this income is spread across the workers, which would mean their wages would be higher.

Additionally, the specific number of employees that the average worker coop has is 10[4], while non-democratic businesses have just over 4[5]. I believe the reason worker coops employ more people on average is because they are created with the intent to benefit the workers. Clearly worker coops benefit the workers more, as they become the owners and are given democratic control over the company. So, since the goal of worker coops is to benefit workers, they try to employ more. A traditional business will employ the minimum amount of people needed to get the job done, while worker coops will try to employ more. Despite this, as shown above, the wages of those workers, even though there is more of them, remain higher in WC's. Thus, I believe if there were more wc's, unemployment would go down naturally, possibly down to 0% if we had enough of them. WC's, after all, seem to employ twice the amount of people that traditional businesses do.

Conclusion of this round:
I believe I have demonstrated the moral need for democracy in the workplace, as well as shown how it would benefit society. To go over again how it would benefit society: because democratic businesses are more productive, this would lower the price of products most likely. It's always the case that if you can produce something faster, it will be cheaper. Additionally, people would earn more money in addition to this, since wages are higher in democratic businesses for the reason that there is not a single individual at the top taking an exorbitant amount of profits from the business as their own income. Unemployment would also decline because more jobs would open due to that a goal of worker coops is to benefit the workers.

What possible downside is there to making the workplace democratic?

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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by GoOrDin 3 years ago
because that god forsaken drug addict, porn addict loser I haired certainly didn't own a shovel. So I don't know why I'd call him Partner.
Posted by GoOrDin 3 years ago
you are saying that, If I need an employee, that employee becomes partner?? or do you mean, I have a shovel, so the Whole Country controls my gardening business?
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