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August 31, 2006

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dearieme

You've often recommended worker co-ops, and I wonder why anyone need take any action, other than publicising their merits, if he wants to promote co-ops. If they're such a good idea, shouldn't they be set up spontaneously? Are there any obstacles - e.g. in law, in the tax system, in the pension system - that impede the would-be co-op?

chris

I know squit about the law and taxes (rational ignorance), but judging from the ease with which hedge funds have been set up, I doubt it.
The traditional obstacle to the emergence of co-ops is access to capital.
However, if you believe that the "new economy" is increasing the importance of human capital relative to physical, we should expect to see even more co-ops emerge over time.
There are already many more co-operative firms than there are publicly quoted ones on the stock exchange. It's just that worker co-ops tend to be small firms.

james higham

...the codetermination and industrial democracy movements (in which management participation by labor is required by law)...

Can you give me an example of this working in Britain? How do you feel about this model?

Alex

Hmmm, autogestion rides again..

In a sense, all open-source software projects are worker co-ops - which rather bears out Chris's point.

Laurent GUERBY

My quest for econometrics is still unsuccesful.

How many co-op worker vs other? Size, wages, productivity, sales, growth vs equivalent non co-op companies in the same sector?

Some co-op are bigs, eg Mondragon in spain (industry and banking), Desjardins in canada (banking, 103 billions CAD in assets), or Credit Agricole in France (banking, went partly to market too).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondrag%C3%B3n_Cooperative_Corporation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouvement_Desjardins

This might be the exceptions, but some do get big access to capital.

Kevin Carson

Chris,

Much of the expansion that currently takes place among conventional enterprises involves growing beyond optimal economy of scale. If it weren't for the possibility of externalizing the diseconomies of large scale on the taxpayer, and the effect of regulatory cartelization and other forms of legal privilege in reducing the competitive disadvantage of inefficiency, there would probably be a lot more, and smaller, firms.

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