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Running the Shop: a bosses’ view of workers’ control

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Issue 2457
Hilary Devey (right) with shop workers
Hilary Devey (right) with shop workers

Channel 4’s new reality TV show Running the Shop might seem like it’s all about workers running the businesses they work for.

Perhaps it’s a little strange then that the star of the show is Bolton entrepreneur Hilary Devey, fresh from the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. 

Instead of business hopefuls pitching their ideas to the “dragons”, each week Devey will swoop down on a failing business. 

So the first episode focuses on Taskers, a family DIY business. The solution is to give the workers “power”. 

The premise is correct —workers do know more about “running the shop” than their bosses. But that’s not how the show works.

The boss leaves the workers a portion of cash to “invest” in new ideas and innovative changes. 

This is supposed to turn the business around. And you never know, it might lead to promotion. 

It’s underpinned by Devey’s claim that succesful firms don’t just rely on managers but the “team”. 

The show smacks of “new management” theories that claim to get rid of old workplace hierarchies. But it was always guff—and this show just plays into it.

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