Limitations of Participative Management

Participative management is undoubtedly one of the better approaches to management. But like any other style of decision making there are certain limitations. These limitations arise either externally or internally vis-a-vis the implementation.

The following are certain limitations of participative management:

  • Complexity of Technology and Organizations: Organizations and Technology are so complicated these days that there are specialized workers required for each job. Workers cannot extend beyond a certain limit in participation. There are instances when a certain department or group participates aggressively and a corresponding group acts equally opposite. Then there are limitations at the level at which you work. Workers, for example, can participate in matters pertaining to operations, policy matters remain outside their reach.

  • Employee’s right of not participating: An employee has the right to not participate. Certain people do not believe in the usefulness of participation and therefore opt out of the same. Some labor unions for example question the usefulness of participation reasoning that participation offers the management deep insights into the workers and they may then use it against the latter.

  • Manipulation: Managers may sometimes use participation to manipulate employees. This may be both conscious and subconscious. Similarly, representatives of the labor unions may also exploit the workers in the name of participation.

  • Workers Psychology: An existent psyche amongst the employees, that they are the workers and their primary purpose is to serve their masters (management) prevents them from participating. It is therefore of little interest to such people.

  • General Bias: Resistance to change inside the organization as mentioned earlier is the biggest hurdle to participative management. Managers decline to share power or to delegate apprehending that they may lose authority by doing so. Workers similarly show disinterest in the participation presuming everything to be well in order. Further there is bias from the top management who step back on their promises when they fail to see participation deliver results in quick time.

  • Trade Unions: Trade unions are integral to the success of participative management; they may be equally detrimental to the success of the same. Most of the trade unions engage in politics and are little bothered about participation. Add to it, the approach of representatives or individuals is also not very favorable. Workers join trade unions for personal rather than organizational reasons. Membership is regarded as a kind of protection against mishaps like accidents, dismissal and other problems whereby union interventions can rescue the worker. Naturally, the motive of participation is diluted.

Participative management cannot work in isolation. It involves each and every member of the organization. For deriving benefits and success out of the same, no single member or employee group can be left out. There are limitations but they arise because there either one or the other group is left out or there is serious communication gap that needs to be taken care of.

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