Edited by Andreas Nölke and Christian May
Chapter 5: Worker co-operatives and other alternative forms of business organization
The relationship between democracy and the economy is of long-standing interest for economic, political and social theory. Discussions about democracy and the economy often focus on the part that government should play in defining the terms of this relationship. Less frequently addressed in a direct way are questions concerning the role of democracy in the economy, and in its basic building blocks, corporations. This chapter considers what the corporation looks like when it comes to be organized along democratic lines. It begins by comparing the democratic conception of the firm against other widely influential theories and showing how this view is operationalized within worker cooperatives. It then considers why worker co-ops are so rare and goes on to discuss the kinds of ‘ecosystems’ that tend to make them less rare. From here, the chapter turns to a discussion of the impact of worker co-ops and some key challenges facing the worker co-op model. It concludes by situating worker co-ops within a broader universe of ‘alternative’ forms of business organization.
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