While decision-making styles are key to achieving good governance, the impact of how decision-makers are selected is a largely neglected area of research. Our study investigates the use of non-elected representatives in a large Belgian-French cooperative and seeks to understand how political and procedural decision-making styles unfold in the face of different selection methods. By conducting a single-case study of a decision-making body that selects representatives through random selection, appointed self-selection, and expert appointment, we theorize three important and underdeveloped factors that influence organizational governance. First, we introduce selection methods as important design tools that affect group dynamics and their resulting decision-making styles. Second, we uncover several behavioral mechanisms that confirm and extend theoretical claims on selection methods and draw a more nuanced picture of the purported benefits of random selection and its relationship with the growing interest in organizational democracy. Last, we offer a role theoretic perspective on the theory of representation by showing how conflicting expectations of representatives can be beneficial for organizational governance.
Simon Pek currently works as an Associate Professor of Business and Society at the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. His primary research interests centre on helping democratic organizations like co-operatives, schools, and unions achieve their social and environmental objectives through the use of democratic innovations. He is particularly interested in collaborating with organizations on joint action research projects. Simon served as the Steering Committee Lead of the Ontario Assembly on Workplace Democracy in 2022. She also co-founded and serves as a member of the board of directors of Democracy In Practice, a non-profit dedicated to democratic experimentation, innovation, and capacity-building.