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A solution to the democratic deficit:

the Sociocratic Method of Decision Making

by Marielle Jansen

If you have wondered how democracy can overcome its flaw of the inherent "dictatorship of the majority", which can even be the narrowest majority of just 50.001%, please consider the Sociocratic Method of Decision Making.

This method was developed by professor Gerard Endenburg of Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Endenburg, who is also an electrical engineer has applied his knowledge from the field of cybernetics to the social sphere and in his own business, Endenburg Electrotechniek in Rotterdam. He also applied the basic idea of the Quakers’ decision making model: draw the information required for decision making from the wisdom of the whole group, not just from the leader(s). He became familiar with the latter in his school years, through the method that his teacher, Kees Boeke, and his English wife, Beatrice Cadbury, had developed for reaching a high level of communication between teachers, pupils and their parents.
Endenburg thus created an open method for organizations to be led on the basis of equivalence in decision making.

The continuous stream of requests for information about the method led to the foundation of the Sociocratic Centre of the Netherlands. Sociocracy is now used in organisations in a number of other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the USA and Switzerland.

The value of the sociocratic method has been recognised by the Dutch government through a knighthood for Endenburg and also through the fact that organisations that work with the method are exempt from installing a works-council (which is obligatory in the Netherlands for businesses employing more than 50 people). The method also prepares an organisation for ISO certification.

The sociocratic method can be summarized in four ground rules:
- The principle of consent governs decision making;
- The organisation is built up of circles / functional groups or departments of a maximum of 25 people, who have a common aim;
- The circles are connected through a double link, in such a way that both the leader and at least one chosen representative from the circle take part in decision making on the next higher level (to ensure both top-down and bottom-up communication);
- Allocation of tasks and functions takes place through sociocratic elections, which means (among others): application of the principle of consent to the election process. This means: open discussion within the circle about the skills and knowledge of the proposed candidate.


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Last modified: June 15, 2002