SSHRC grant project asks: Is the future Codetermination?
December 12, 2022
Congratulations to Dr. Tom Malleson, Associate Professor of Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS), on receiving a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant for their project, Economic Hierarchy or Democracy: Should Large Firms be Governed Through Codetermination?
The project’s goal is to determine whether codetermination, the practice of giving workers the ability to elect a certain portion of the governing boards of large firms, should be implemented in Canada. The project asks if the social and economic benefits would outweigh the costs. Codetermination is relatively common in Europe but has never existed in Anglo-American countries.
Dr. Malleson’s role in SJPS and interdisciplinary background in political philosophy and political economy are vital for the project. The project will require them to think about the pros and cons of codetermination from a social and economic perspective.
“I have long been interested in questions of workplace justice and workplace democracy. In my eyes, one of the biggest issues in society today is that Canada calls itself a ‘democracy,’ yet most people spend most of their lives in institutions (workplaces) which are largely undemocratic. Workers don’t get to elect their bosses; far from it – their main duty, regardless of their job, is to do what they’re told. Workplaces are often sites of domination, and that strikes me as a severe problem for a democratic society,” says Dr. Malleson.
The grant will allow Dr. Malleson to contribute to the mainstream debate about the role of large corporations in our lives. This will include speaking at conferences, publishing papers in academic journals, laying the groundwork for a future book, and engaging in discussions in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and social media.
“The ultimate goal is for political parties like the NDP to introduce calls for codetermination in their future policy plans (as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have recently done in the U.S.). The new political openness for ideas like this excited me and made me to want to think more carefully about the possibilities and obstacles of extending codetermination to Canada,” says Dr. Malleson.