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"Martha's Rules":An Alternative to Robert's Rules of Order

Affilia , Volume 1 (2): 53 – Jun 1, 1986


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1986 by SAGE Publications
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"Martha's Rules":An Alternative to Robert's Rules of Order


For several years I have been teaching a social work course on how social workers can make their employing organization more responsive to consumers. We'study how decisions are made in organizations. The students and I have become intrigued with the use of consensus decision-making in some organizations. Many—but by no means all—of these organizations are feminist organizations that wish to put feminist beliefs and philosophy into practice within organizations and to avoid structured administrative hierarchies for decision making. In their study of "consensus decision-making" organizations, students have reported that some participants are impatient with the time required by the use of consensus decision-making for all decisions—large and small. One student brought to class a copy of "Martha's Rules" that were developed by Martha's Housing Co-op for families in Madison, Wisconsin. "Martha's Rules" are not only an alternative to Robert's Rules, but provide ideas for people in organizations who are committed to consensus decision-making and who want to make it work well.
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