Published in Yugoslav Workers’ Self-Management, 1970
edited by M.J. Broekmeyer
This paper contains some general observations with regard to the excellent and interesting description of Mr. Blum on the subject of the director and workers’ management with ‘Energoinvest’, as well as some aspects of the present developments in the philosophy and practice of participative management of a chemical company in The Netherlands, KNZ, part of AKZO. However, it also tries to detect some general trend in the (mostly Western) world and the relation of these trends to both the workers’ management in ‘Energoinvest’ and the participative management in the above- mentioned company. Instead of only concentrating on differences in philosophy and practice between the two systems, it is also tried to find common denominators and the factors that appear to work towards an evolution into the same direction, although coming from a different starting point, both historical and ideological.
B. General remarks
1. Evolution and Business Enterprise
Before going later in this paper into the examination of the present situation of the industrial enterprise in Yugoslavia and The Netherlands, I would like to start with some general remarks on the role of the enterprise in the process of evolution that this earth and this world have gone through ever since the process started some 3 billion years ago.
In this long process we see the gradual growth from atoms to molecules, to cells, to organisms and eventually to man, who is now trying to succesfully establish new forms and combinations in the next phase of evolution. The three striking aspects of all the phases of evolution are ever increasing complexity, interdependence of the constituting individual elements and completely new and unpredictable results out of the efforts for new combinations. In the present phase of evolution in this world it is a question, as Teilhard de Chardin has put it, whether we consider the social phenomenon as a consequence solely of the fact that we, mankind, become so numerous and that we just need economic and legal measures to ‘organize’ the human groupings; or, that we consider the new combinations as structures of nature, with their own and new complexities, and the natural extension of the organic evolution into a social evolution. Of course, there are many forms and combinations in human groupings through which the evolution process can find its way. However, it seems that the industrial enterprise is a grouping that contains a lot of elements that make it especially apt for a fast growth, particularly in the developed countries. It is usually not hampered by national, political, religious or ideological restrictions, or by a small maximum size (such as the family is).
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