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May 20, 2006


Laurent GUERBY

You might find of interest at Economist's View (I don't see it in your link section):


Cooperatives are totally invisible in mainstream reporting, I wonder why. Are they insignificant as a share of production?


Chris and Laurent,

A few comments. Co-ops are undoubtedly a good thing, but co-op businesses where the workers concentrate on control, as opposed to ownership, often result in the more industrious workers becoming subsiders of indolence (to echo Mill's langage).

Chris - I know we've disagreed in the past about the value of Direct over Representative Democracy. But as a director of a Worker Co-operative, I'd suggest that in industrial democracy, this arguement is really foregrounded. Thus my preference for elected officers.

And Laurent, the co-op I'm involved in won't appear on many reports because we run it like any other company. BUT the staff own 100% of an Employee Benefit Trust that, in turn wholly owns the Co-op (this is a simplified explanation - I'd have to go into more detail for a fully accurate explanation of the structure). We extract shareholder value both in terms of profits / dividends, and in terms of the social direction of the company. Those values impact on the work that we chose to do.

I'd hesitate to use the word 'ethical' because I reach for my revolver whenever I hear anyone else use it....



You can call Mill a socialist only by ignoring the way the word has been used since his day, and by ignoring the actions of self-described socialists. But then you know that, you tease.

Laurent GUERBY

Paulie, thanks for sharing your experience, I know of other companies here in France that have the same kind of "funny" structures (company owned by an "association" where all workers are members :).

I'm surprised that little or no literature can be found comparing employer owned companies (in some way) vs traditional companies performances given that incentives are such a big topic in economics.

If you know of some, let me know :)

Paul Lyon

``Some of the great man's own words are here.''

And others may be found here:


as well as some of the same with better mark-up :-)

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