Neoliberalism, Participatory Theory, and Leadership of Self-Governing Teams On the Expansion of Participatory Theory Indicators

Rae Randleman


The notion that the key to social emancipation is through collectivism’s equality or neoliberalism’s individual liberty has proven to be illusory. In reality both utopian theories have culminated in the aggregation of power and wealth within an elite, minority population. The neoliberal capitalist system has created a hyperpatrimonial society and a hypermeritocratic society. Leadership within the United States’ neoliberal economic system has created material conditions of growing inequalities of wealth, income, and opportunity for the majority population. Participatory theorists argue that organizations with leadership of self-governing teams, such as worker cooperatives, reduce inequality and increase freedom. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to investigate the presence or absence of key indicators of participatory theory and neoliberalism in selected worker cooperatives. The conclusions of the meta-analysis suggest that participatory theory indicators in wor- ker cooperatives’ ideology, workers’ materialization, and customers’ discourse are more pervasive than neoliberal indicators. The framework synthesis derived from the primary data analysis can inform the organizational practices of worker cooperatives and other socially oriented organizations in creating a more democratic and just workplace.

Keywords: participatory theory, worker cooperative, justice, leadership, self-governing teams, neoliberalism, hypermeritocracy

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