Schemes for workplace participation have long been promoted and vilified. Such conflicting views have been brought into sharp focus by the highly variable results of such practices as teamwork. Yet a theoretical framework to grasp workplace co-operation is lacking. This paper develops a framework on the basis of theory and a review of a wide range of empirical studies. Capital and labour each have two sets of ‘concerns’: over ‘control’ of the workplace and the longer term ‘development’ of the productive forces. Cross-classifying these concerns produces a matrix of patterns of workplace relations. Each cell of the matrix represents a different combination of the interests of capital and labour. The matrix can be used to map participation schemes so as to capture their varying features. The next task, pursued elsewhere, is to identify the conditions leading to locations in different cells of the matrix.