Balancing the democracy dilemmas: Experiences of three women workers' cooperatives in Hong Kong

Catherine Wah-hung Ng, Evelyn Ng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Workplace democracy is 'an evolving reality' reflected in an organization's daily practices to deal with dilemmas. This article examines the inherent tensions and conflicts of practising workplace democracy in three women workers' cooperatives in Hong Kong. The co-ops were young and supported by non-governmental organizations. Based on interviews and participant observation, it was found that on balance, these co-ops were tilted towards democracy at the expense of efficiency. The analyses suggest that as these co-ops grow and develop, to sustain democracy in the long term, they may need to pay more attention to efficiency issues. Although the pull towards efficiency can lead to the emergence of a managerial elite group, thus contributing to a degeneration of democracy, paradoxically, to revive democracy, some form and function of leadership and management, collectively agreed, need to be established.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-206
Number of pages25
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009


  • Management
  • Self-determination
  • Women's groups
  • Workplace democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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