Between Ideology and Interdependence

by William May



Corporations are pragmatic organizations, adjusting their style and structure to local conditions across the globe. No enterprise worth its name can afford the luxury of an unyielding dogma. Nor do all these outpourings arise from nationalism. Other doctrines have a "transnational" hue of their own and appear in many settings simultaneously. One such doctrine affecting the international corporation is "co-determination." In various parts of Europe, workers have representation on the boards of business corporations. In some countries the representatives are union officials; in others, they come directly from the ranks. A well-run business always welcomes input from its employees. This can be especially valuable if it is a true relationship between management and labor, when both sides know the problems and practices of the industry. The difficulty is that something called "co-determination" can become an ideology with extrinsic motives of its own. Instead of actual workers' representatives, one may face professional spokesmen who have doctrinal axes to grind. A corporation cannot survive in such circumstances, particularly if every decision concerning finance or production or marketing degenerates into a dispute over economic philosophies.

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