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Mainstreaming Co-OperationAn Alternative for the Twenty-First Century?$
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Anthony Webster, Linda Shaw, Rachael Vorberg-Rugh, and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099595

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099595.001.0001

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What do we really know about workers’ co-operatives?

What do we really know about workers’ co-operatives?

Chapter:
(p.239) 14 What do we really know about workers’ co-operatives?
Source:
Mainstreaming Co-Operation
Author(s):

Virginie Pérotin

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719099595.003.0014

In the economic literature, worker co-operatives are viewed as small, specialised and undercapitalised organisations that only thrive in unusual conditions and could not possibly constitute a serious alternative to conventional firms. This chapter challenges this conventional wisdom, drawing on a range of international economic studies comparing worker co-operatives and conventional firms. The evidence reviewed suggests that worker co-operatives match ‘mainstream’ firms for durability, and can be found in most industrial sectors. The chapter rejects the notion that worker co-operatives are systemically undercapitalised, and asserts that many are more productive than their mainstream equivalents, largely because of their capacity to motivate workers through their control of the enterprise. It suggests that worker co-operation is a viable alternative to private ownership for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and that in some regions of Italy and Spain, the model is integrated into the economic mainstream.

Keywords:   Co-operative movement, Employee ownership, Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Economics, France, Spain, Italy, Uruguay, UK, USA, Israel

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