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The overall approach to the human component of organizations has altered dramatically since the 1980s. Although many “innovative” concepts and techniques have existed for several decades, their applications usually seemed premature or unnecessary. Such applications did not occur until a series of concurrent changes enabled an environment to evolve that ushered in a new era of human resources.

Two of the most highly publicized changes include the necessity of multiple-person decision making and the higher expectation levels of employees. These factors, among others, have contributed to a general organizational strategy of participative management. The concept itself is often misunderstood or confused during both its inception and its application. When understood correctly, however, this strategy can be used to develop employees and to refine and improve the overall management and decision making of an organization.

The primary purpose of this chapter is to explain and clarify the current options surrounding this most intriguing and challenging approach to building an effective workforce.

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