What do we really know about worker cooperatives?


Professor of Economics Virginie Pérotin at the Leeds University Business School specializes in the effects of firm ownership and governance on performance, worker cooperatives, employee ownership, and profit sharing. She has also acted as a consultant to the European Commission, World Bank and OECD on issues of profit-sharing, employee ownership, and employee involvement schemes. 

Pérotin recently dissected two decades' worth of international data on employee-owned and managed cooperatives in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe and compared them with normal businesses. 

In her groundbreaking report, What do we really know about worker cooperatives?, she debunks some of the most common assumptions about the size, performance and productivity of cooperatives—i.e., democratically operated and self-managed enterprises.

In the study—the largest of its kind comparing the productivity of worker cooperatives to top-down traditional companies—Perotin concludes, "worker cooperatives are more productive than conventional businesses, with staff working 'better and smarter' and production organized more efficiently."

The main findings from the report are:

Worker co-operatives are larger than conventional businesses and not necessarily less capital intensive

Worker co-operatives survive at least as long as other businesses and have more stable employment

Worker cooperatives are more productive than conventional businesses, with staff working “better and smarter” and production organized more efficiently

Worker co-operatives retain a larger share of their profits than other business models

Executive and non-executive pay differentials are much narrower in worker co-operatives than other firms

To access the full copy of What do we really know about worker cooperatives?, published by Co-operatives UK, please visit here.


Paul Sliker is an editor and commentator at Democracy at Work, the Chair of the Politics Committee and a member of the Coordinating Committee at Democracy at Work - New York ([email protected]). Follow him on Twitter: @psliker


Showing 3 comments

  • Landon Swearengin
    commented 2017-08-17 03:47:03 -0400
    The professor has made very good points in his article about the cooperation between the workers while in the work. This is very important thing that workers need cooperation in work. These types of articles must be shared in high viewers rated sites like http://www.my-essayontime.com/ blog where more number of viewers can read this article.
  • Guy Jeffries
    commented 2017-07-11 12:29:38 -0400
    “That seems to still be true” can you cite sources please. You could ask the same question in reverse as well of course. You also assume that running a successful business is to run all competition out of business to create a monopoly which is not an objective of the capitalism system as it does not create a competitive marketplace and so makes private companies non-optimal. Surely if a cooperative is to be successful in a capitalist economy it needs to define its success as continuing to exist in competition with others?
  • Bill Wald
    commented 2017-06-23 22:02:51 -0400
    About 50 years ago I took a class in insurance theory and practice at Clarkson University nee College. The prof mentioned that “for profit” insurance companies are always more efficient than mutuals. That seems to still be true. Why has Pemco Insurance not run Safeco out of business? They sell almost identical products. Why have credit unions not forced small commercial banks out of business?

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