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Democratic Decision-Making Style: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:01 What Is Democratic…
  • 1:12 Consensus & Majority Vote
  • 3:04 Benefits & Challenges
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica McCallister
There are many ways that decisions can be made in the professional world. This lesson explains the democratic decision-making style by showing how this process works. A quiz is provided to assess your knowledge of the topic.

What Is Democratic Decision-Making?

There are many ways that decisions are made. One of the more popular ways is through the democratic decision-making style or process. This type of process is also referred to as a 'leadership style.' What does this mean? In order for a process to be democratic, it must be conducted with equality and fairness in mind. There are pre-existing rules and procedures that allow for a mainstream resolution to the issue. Also, there is not one person responsible for making a decision; rather, the decision is made by a group of people. Therefore, democratic decision-making is dependent on a group, instead of one leader.

While the democratic decision-making style seems pretty straightforward, there is some complexity to the process. As you can imagine, getting a group of people together and hoping they all agree on an issue can be a pretty challenging situation! There are different forms of the democratic decision-making process that help move resolutions along, such as consensus and majority vote. Democratic decision-making comes with its benefits, as well as its challenges.

Consensus and Majority Vote

To better understand the democratic decision-making style, let's talk about what consensus and majority vote mean. A consensus means that mostly everyone in the group is in agreement on the issue, there has been careful discussion and no stone has been left unturned. For example, if there was a group of 10 people, and the group needed to make a decision as to when to meet each month, each of the 10 people would have a say as to what day of the week would work for them.

If everyone agrees that the first Wednesday of the month is a good day, then the consensus is that the first Wednesday of the month will be the monthly group meeting day. Generally, in a consensus, everyone is in agreement as to the resolution. Consensus works best with smaller groups as opposed to larger groups. The larger the group, the harder it is to gain agreement on an issue. If a consensus doesn't work and there is still conflict as to a resolution, then the group may decide to switch to majority vote or come back to the topic at a later date (known as tabling the topic).

However, the majority vote is quite different. Majority vote works best when there are larger groups because it is often difficult or impossible to gain 100% approval on an issue when there are so many people involved in the decision-making process. Therefore, a majority vote happens when everyone is asked to cast a vote.

If there are 100 people in the group, then there only needs to be 51 people that agree on the issue for the decision to be made. However, there can be special rules as to how much of the majority needs to vote in agreement for the issue to be resolved. Perhaps the vote needs to be 70 in agreement instead of 51, depending on the already existing rules established by the group.

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