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Imagine an economy without bosses.
A close analysis of the performance of worker-owned cooperative firms—companies in which workers share in management and ownership—shows that, compared to standard top-down firms, co-ops can be a viable, even superior way of doing business.
“Virginie Perotin of Leeds University Business School synthesized research on “labor-managed firms” in Western Europe, the United States and Latin America, “
Perotin found improvements in operations, efficiency and holistic social benefits associated with increased worker autonomy, and having a direct stake in managing production.
Worker-run management reduces friction with boss/worker issues like
“European co-op sector is generally as diverse as any other type of ownership structure, including full-scale factories . Though co-op conversion is often seen as a way to rescue “failing” firms, Perotin’s research reveals that in France from 1997 to 2001 more than eight in 10 worker co-ops starting up during this period were established “from scratch,” not derived from ownership transfers in failing companies (compared to new business formations overall, co-ops had a larger portion of brand-new startups)”.
Co-ops offer sustainable long-term employment because worker-owners protect their own livelihoods. This is seen in periods of economic distress, co-ops generally preserve jobs while planning to maintain current assets—vs. many corporations shed jobs to tighten budgets.
Not all worker-owned models prioritize further generations. Some co-ops though balance both democratic enterprise and public trust principles- and in some states are mandated by law to protect the co-op model by keeping a long term reserves, and that when owners leave, indivisible assets are recycled back into future co-op organization.
“In an increasingly precarious economy, advocates push worker ownership as a pathway to restore equity and control to labor. Co-ops can boost career mobility and seed homegrown job opportunities, while communities benefit from an ownership structure that keeps capital reinvested locally, not exploited or outsourced to faceless corporate chains.”
“Co-ops may not bring about a revolution, but they do bring a priceless return on investment— giving workers the power to repay one good turn with another”.
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