Is Management a Democracy?
作者：Dr. Rebel Hanna
…, strong leaders are thought to challenge or undermine the concepts of democracy, participation and the delegation of decision-making. The appropriate role of the leader is often described as that of a compromiser, weighing various interests on a balance and then mapping out a middle-of-the-road route, using analysis and pragmatism to get there (Gyllenhammar 1977:161)
Lot of Human Resources researchers and practitioners are confusing between creating a friendly and agreeable business environment for people to work with flexible and motivating conditions, and the practice of decision-making and accountability.
This confusion expanded to a certain level that some Human Resources practitioners consider that Management is a Democracy, based on some important practices such as the transparency in internal communication, motivation policies, team work culture, flexible time schedule, open door policy, and other practices implemented to increase the level of comfort and satisfaction at the employees’ level.
Does this mean that Management is a Democracy?
In this post, I will try to put the light on this dilemma.
What is a Democracy?
At the most basic level, it is a type of government or political system ruled by citizens, people who are members of a society. In a democracy, citizens hold some level of power and authority, and they participate actively in the political, or decision-making, process of their government.
What is an Organization?
Basically, an organization in its simplest form (and not necessarily a legal entity, e.g., corporation or LLC) is a person or group of people intentionally organized to accomplish an overall, common goal or set of goals.
At an Organization level, when it comes to Execution, let us agree that there is no room for Compromise, hence, let us dissect the definitions and try to analyze and find if there are similarities or commonalities between their elements.
Principles of a Democracy
To understand the Democracy principles, we should be aware of the following to understand the real meaning of the participation of the citizens in the political, or decision-making process of the government.
The people/citizens who are living in a certain geographic area are in the global majority born in this area, under a specific constitution, specific policy, specific laws and rules that can be challenged and customized according to the needs and expectations of the majority. 住在一個地區的公民，意思是出生在此地區的人，可以依照需求及大多數人的期待來制定特定的憲章，政策，法律，規則。
The citizens (in their majority), elect their leader(s) by their own choice and will.
The election process in itself is a process of accountability from the people to their leaders. Good leaders are re-elected and bad leaders are rejected.
The majority decides who is the Governor and they accept his attitudes and decisions as long as these are in line with their goals and objectives, ie expectations.
In any democracy, the government serves the citizens and works for their wellbeing, security, prosperity, stability and development. The Global Policy (External and Internal), is defined to respond specifically the citizens’ expectations. 在任何民主制度中，政府在福利，安全，經濟，穩定，發展等面向服務公民。簡單來說就是回應特定的公民期待。
As a conclusion, the decision making process is simply driven by the Majority of the people / citizens.
Principles of an Organization
The Organization is a group of people (Shareholders, Management and employees) working all together for specific common goals and objectives. This has a different understanding and a different concept, described as per the following:
The majority of people in an organization are the employees. They are employed to serve the common goals and objectives that are for the pure benefit of these shareholders.
Laws, policies, rules and regulations of the organization are all designed for the best interest of the organization and hence of the shareholders.
The Leaders acting for the management are not elected but assigned by the shareholders through the Board of Directors to EXECTUE and reach the expected goals and objectives.
The shareholders are the supreme beneficial owners, hence they are the only and exclusive authority to practice the process of accountability. If the Chairman / CEO is performing, he is awarded and if not, he is terminated and replaced. 股東是獲利的擁有者，因此他們擁有唯一且獨斷的決策權，執行長做得好，就被獎勵，做不好就換人。
The shareholders approve or decide who the Chairman is and or the CEO. They decide who should lead the organization and who is entrusted to EXECUTE the mission to achieve the defined Goal(s).
It is the responsibility of the CEO to manage and deploy the right resources in the right place at the right time for the right EXECUTION. He should DECIDE to perform and remain in full harmony with the assignment of the shareholders. 執行長的責任就是管理並調整資源在正確的時間到正確的位置。他負責執行股東的任務。
Although the very advanced practices of Performance Management and Employees’ Appraisal processes, still, these are always designed to respond to the ultimate ONE GOAL decided by the upper authority, the shareholders. And this creates the escalated accountability system. 雖然有各種先進的績效評核系統，但這些系統都用來反映特定目標，股東的目標。這創造責任鍊。
In any Organization, the people, meaning the employees and management, work to serve the shareholders’ common objectives and expectations, to protect their rights, to increase their wealth and ensure their prosperity, while competing internally for self-development.
As a conclusion, the decision-making process is simply driven by the shareholder(s).
Analysis of the principles
People in a Democracy are the citizens, the mass and the ultimate “beneficial owners”, People in an Organization are the employees.
Government in a Democracy is the sponsor of the execution of the people’s objectives, Management in an Organization is the sponsor of the execution of the shareholders’ objectives.
As described, it is obvious that the principles of a Democracy are different than the principles of an Organization since (i) the basics, (ii) the mechanics, and (iii) the objectives are different.
While in a Democracy the government serves the citizens ie the people, in an Organization the people serve the shareholders. So the roles are completely inverted.
The decision-making process in a Democracy is very elastic since it should always be in line with the majority of the citizens and ensure the expectations of these citizens. The elasticity comes from the dynamic internal and external factors that might sometimes change the priorities and the needs of the people. Referendums and elections can consequently change the goals and objectives.
The decision-making process in an Organization is rigid since it should ensure the right execution of the business plan to reach the specific goals and objectives that usually are not easily negotiable. Flexibility is only considered in case of major effects that are scientifically analyzed by the ultimate beneficial owners prior to any change. The Chairman / CEO cannot but follow the defined guidelines and take decisions accordingly.
Can we say that Management is a Democracy?
This simple analysis that I conducted didn’t show any basic or situational or technical similarity, it didn’t show any commonality as well.
Decision-making in a Democracy as mentioned is elastic, it derives from the people, who are the base, the bottom, where decision-making in an Organization is rigid since it is imposed from the top.
Chairman and CEO of an Organization should live with the absence of elasticity and make sure that all the decisions are taken in the direction of reaching the goals. In some situations, people can have a say at a very limited tactical level, but the ultimate spirit of the decision-making process is never negotiable, leaders cannot compromise, they have to EXECUTE.
Management IS NOT a Democracy! No one can have a say in the decision making-process. Discussions and concertation are a must, but only for a better and optimized EXECUTION, and never to change a decision.
Management IS NOT a Democracy, but it is a very complex decision-making process allowing to allocate the right resources in the right place at the right time to harmonize and synchronize all these resources to achieve the common goals and objectives. All those who comply remain IN, all those who don’t are simply rejected by the system.
Is it a Democracy? Definitely NOT.
Is it Healthy? Definitely YES,
If Democracy is considered in Management, it converts an Organization in a chaotic environment, leading to disruption, lack of accountability, lack of execution, lack of leadership, lack of success.
Opened discussions, transparent communication and concertation should always be considered for the right Execution of the Decisions.
DEMOCRACY IS NOT A GOOD RECIPE FOR SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT.
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