Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2005, page 51-70.
Employee Participation Legitimized by Knowledge
This article discusses challenges connected to employees participation and empowerment by the use of ideas from the management concept of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) in an organisational change effort in the oil company “Norwestoil”. By following the controversies connected to participation we see different forms of participation and non-participation take place. These forms are created by a network of different actors, artefacts (as BPR and CI (continuous improvement)), different interests and different forms of legitimating, which all together creates an organisational space of actions for participation. The traditionally hegemonic ways of legitimating participation have been 1) to improve democracy and 2) the use of participation to improve productivity and increase efficiency in a workplace. In this case we see a new turn, a new way to legitimate participation or the lack of participation by the use of knowledge as an argument. In addition, we see new actors, especially management consultants, who contribute to increase the organisational space of actions for participation. We also see more of different forms of direct participations of employees in addition to the traditional two parties: management and trade unions.