314 Subsidiarity as a target for healthy organisations

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Abstract

Introduction

Corporate governance, through the involvement of employees and the dynamics that it can produce, is an essential issue for efficiency and for safeguarding workers’ health. Many studies have shown that individual autonomy is a determining factor for occupational health. Employees must have individual and collective leeway in organising their work, not only applying procedures that have been defined by others but being able to show their creativity and influence their work environment. In this aim, organisational design should provide the opportunity to influence management modes, distribution of power, individual participation in the design processes. The concept of subsidiarity can help to achieve these goals.

Methods

From an ergonomic intervention in an insurance company about the organisation of a call centre, we can see what are the conditions to build an organisation aiming at subsidiarity, both as a target and as a process for the management of change.

Results

Contrary to the idea of a predetermined definition of all the decisions that can be taken at every level of the hierarchy, efficiency consists in constantly adapting the level of decision-making to the problem being dealt with. This requires constructing an organisation which is sensitive to details of events, which can be always adjusting the levels at which matters are dealt with. However, this swing from one decision level to another is only possible if the organisation and the people within it are well prepared beforehand.

Conclusion

The concept of subsidiarity constitutes an ethical point of reference for dealing with questions of organisational design and corporate governance. It favours decision-making at the lowest appropriate level by following three organising principles: the competency principle, the assistance principle, and the substitution principle. The way we build the interventions must be in line with this vision. It is both a matter of efficiency and a dynamic for healthy organisations.

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