Scandinavian research projects in system development have traditionally put a strong emphasis on user participation as a strategy for increasing working life democracy. The article analyses a few of these projects with respect to this goal. We argue that there has been a development from politics to ethics in system development research, and that the political dimension should be reintroduced.

A reorientation of system development strategies aiming at increasing working life democracy can learn from the historical success stories, in particular the combination of global strategy and local action used in the trade union projects in the 60’s. Recent development in technology and working life will, however, introduce new challenges to system development.