September 21, 1995
Political systems everywhere are moving toward democratic forms as people reject authoritarian government, bureaucracy, and the denial of human rights. At the same time, many companies, recognizing that business as usual can strangle innovation and competitiveness, have instituted “teams,” “total quality programs,” and the like, in attempts to foster participation. Unfortunately, many of these programs have been unsuccessful in both the public and private sectors. In order to be successful, these programs must be incorporated into a general movement toward systems of participative governance.
McLagan and Nel explain why participative governance is a major issue of our times, affecting all areas of our lives: education, business, government, families, and community organizations. In The Age of Participation they focus on participation in the workplace, blending theory and practice in numerous examples and industry models. They look closely at every role of the organization – from suppliers and customers to executives and unions – and deflate the fears and misperceptions that sabotage change. Finally, they show why the shift to participation can’t and won’t occur unless all of us are willing to go through the personal changes needed to thrive and survive in the workplace and a world that is vastly different than the one in which we were born.
Patricia McLagan, founder of McLagan International, is an American who has been a consultant to public and private sector institutions in the United States, England, and South Africa for over twenty-five years. She is known for her consulting, speaking, and writing on leadership development, participative management, and large system change. She now lives in South Africa, where she consults on participative governance. She is also a professor at RAU University in Johannesburg.
Christo Nel is a South African who has been assisting change in the public and private sectors in South Africa for over fifteen years. He was project leader of Project Free Enterprise and cofounder of the Consultative Business Movement, both significant business forces which helped to bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa.
Together, McLagan and Nel have cofounded the Democracy and Work Institute in South Africa.