Exit and Voice in the Workplace
By Arnold Kling
I’m arguing that the case for workplace democracy and other democratic constraints on employers is the same as the case for democracy anywhere: it’s better for securing the freedom and personal independence of the governed than the authoritarian alternative.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen.
Read the whole thing. She seems to me to be arguing that more economic relations should be governed by voice. If my reading is correct, then I strongly disagree.
To me, the great thing about economic relations is that they are governed by exit. If you don’t like the way that Wal-Mart treats employees, then go work for Costco, which has a completely different model for employee relations. If you work for Wal-Mart because you have no other choice, I see that as your problem, not Wal-Mart’s.
Anderson is correct that we resent being told what to do. We resent it as political subjects. We resent it as customers. We resent it as workers.
However, as customers, we typically have a powerful and effective exit option. As workers, the exit option is more difficult to exercise, but it still is available and it still works. As political subjects, even in a democracy, we have no exit option.
I continue to champion the exit option over democracy. The widely-unread Unchecked and Unbalanced contains many proposals to move away from democracy and toward exit as a model for government.