Participation in Worker Cooperatives

  • Marcelo Vieta
  • Jack Quarter
  • Roger Spear
  • Alexandra Moskovskaya


This chapter discusses different models of worker cooperatives ranging from those that are predominantly economic associations, or a form of employee ownership, to those that are more collectivist and emphasize workplace democracy, community commitment, and cooperative ideals. Worker cooperatives that focus upon employee ownership are primarily a variation of a business corporation; worker cooperatives with a more collectivist orientation are primarily a form of cooperative, but with members who are employees rather than consumers of a service or primary producers such as farmers. More recently, hybrid arrangements have been created that integrate a worker cooperative within a business corporation and a cooperative, a multi-stakeholder cooperative or social cooperative. Takeovers of abandoned investor-owned businesses resulting in worker cooperatives are a growing phenomenon in South America.

At first glance, it may seem odd to include a chapter about worker cooperatives within a Handbook on Volunteering, Civic Participation, and Nonprofit Associations, but there are commonalities.


Social Enterprise Work Cooperative Social Cooperative Business Corporation Employee Stock Option 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ake Biiök, Sven. 1990. “Observations on Raising Capital.” Review of International Co-operation 83(4):41–42Google Scholar
  2. Alperovitz, Gar. 2011. America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley 81 SonsGoogle Scholar
  3. Atzeni, Maurizio, ed. 2012 Alternative Work Organisations. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacmillanGoogle Scholar
  4. Atzeni, Maurizio, and Ghigliani, Pablo. 2007. “Labour Process and Decision-Making in Factories Under Workers’ Self-Management: Empirical Evidence from Argentina.” Work, Employment & Society 21:653–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altenberg, Lee. 1990. “Beyond Capitalism: Leland Stanford’s Forgotten Vision.” Sandstone and Tile 14(1):8–20Google Scholar
  6. Artz, Georgeanne, and Younjun Kim. 2011. “Business Ownership by Workers: Are Worker Cooperatives a Viable Option?” Working Paper No. 11020. Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, Ames, IowaGoogle Scholar
  7. Bayat, Asef. 1991. Work, Politics and Power: An International Perspective on Workers’ Control and Self-Management. London: Zed PressGoogle Scholar
  8. Becchetti, Leonardo, and Carlo Borzaga, eds. 2010. The Economics of Social Responsibility: World of Social Enterprises. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Ben-Ner, Avner. 1984. “On the Stability of the Cooperative Type of Organization.” Journal of Comparative Economics 8(3):247–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ben-Ner, Avner and Matthew Ellman. 2013. “The Contributions of Behavioural Economics to Understanding and Advancing the Sustainability of Worker Cooperatives.” Journal of Entrepreneurial and Economic Diversity 2(1):75–99Google Scholar
  11. Ben-Ner, Avner and Derek Jones. 1995. “Employee Participation, Ownership, and Productivity: A Theoretical Framework.” Industrial Relations 3(4):532–554Google Scholar
  12. Birchall, Johnston 2003. Rediscovering the Co-operative Advantage: Poverty Reduction Through Self-Help. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour OrganizationGoogle Scholar
  13. Birchall, Johnston, 2012. “The potential of Co-operatives During the Current Recession: Theorizing Comparative Advantage.” Paper presented at the “Promoting the Understanding of Cooperatives for a Better World” conference (European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises), San Servolo, Venice, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  14. Birchall, Johnson and Lou Hammond Ketilson, 2009. Resilience of the Cooperative Business Model in Times of Crisis. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour OrganizationGoogle Scholar
  15. Borzaga, Carlo, Sara Depedri, and Ermanno Tortia. 2010. “The Growth of Organizational Variety in Market Economies: The Case of Social Enterprises.” Working Papers N.003. Trento, Italy: European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises/EURICSEGoogle Scholar
  16. Briscoe, Robert and Michael Ward. 2005. Helping Ourselves: Success Stories in Cooperative Business and Social Enterprises. Dublin: Oak Tree PressGoogle Scholar
  17. Canadian Co-operative Association. 2011. Co-operative Investment Plan. Retrieved April 22, 2012 from
  18. CentroStudi. 2012. The Boards of the Large Cooperatives. Brief Notes No 3. LegaCoop. Retrieved April 22, 2012 from
  19. Cheney, George., Lars T. Christensen, Theadore Zorn, & Shiv Ganesh. 2010. Organizational Communication in an Age of Globalization: Issues, Reflections, Practices. Long Grove, IL: WavelandGoogle Scholar
  20. Connel, D. J. 1999. Collective Entrepreneurship: In Search of Meaning. Retrieved March 20, 2014 from
  21. Corcoran, Hazel, and David Wilson. 2010. The Worker Co-operative Movements in Italy, Mondragon and France: Context, Success Factors and Lessons. Calgary: Canadian Worker Co-operative FederationGoogle Scholar
  22. Cornforth, Christopher, Alan Thomas, Jenny Lewis, and Roger Spear. 1988. Developing Successful Worker Co-operatives. London: Sage PublicationsGoogle Scholar
  23. Côté, Daniel. 2001. Les Holdings Coopératifs: Evolutions ou Transformation Definitive? Bruxelles: Editions De Boeck Université/CIRIEC internationalGoogle Scholar
  24. Craddock, Trent, and Sarah Kennedy. 2006. Worker Co-operative Trends in N. America and Europe. Retrieved May 1, 2012 from
  25. Curl, John. 2009. For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America. Oakland, Cal.: PM PressGoogle Scholar
  26. Defourny, Jacques. 2001 “Introduction: From Third Sector to Social Enterprise.” Pp. 1–28 in The Emergence of Social Enterprise, edited by C. Borzaga and J. Defoumy. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  27. Delahaye, Brian. 2005. Human Resource Development: Adult Learning and Knowledge Management. Milton, Australia: John Wiley and SonsGoogle Scholar
  28. Donestevez-Sánchez, Grizel, ed. 2013. Para la construcción de cooperativas de la preducción y servicios de la vivienda: Promoviendo el cooperativismo no agropecuario. Havana: Ediciones LuminariaGoogle Scholar
  29. Dow, Gregory. 2003. Governing the Firm: Workers’ Control in Theory and Practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  30. Ellerman, David. 1990. The Democratic Worker-Owned Firm. Boston: HarperCollinsGoogle Scholar
  31. ESOP Association. 2011. ESOP Statistics. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from
  32. Erdal, David. 2011. Beyond the Corporation: Humanity Working. London: Random House UKGoogle Scholar
  33. EURICSE. 2011 La cooperazione in Italia. lo rapporto EURICSE. Trento, Italy: European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises. Retrieved from
  34. Fain, Leonid Y. 1998. “Use of Historical Experience as an Important Condition to Cooperative Development.” Pp. 4–9 in Production Cooperatives: New Start, New Opportunities, edited by H. Stoffregen and S Smolyansky. Moscow: League of Cooperators and Entrepreneurs of RussiaGoogle Scholar
  35. Fici, Antonio. 2013. “Italy.” Pp. 479–502 in International Handbook of Cooperative Law, edited by D. Carcogna, A. Fici, and H. Henry. Heidelberg, Germany: SpringerGoogle Scholar
  36. Freeman, Steven. 2007. “Effects of ESOP Adoption and Employee Ownership: Thirty Years of Research Experience.” Center for Organizational Dynamics Working Paper #07–01Google Scholar
  37. Girard, Jean-Pierre. 2008. Les Cooperatives de Solidarité: Une Forme Organisationnelle pour Ren forcer la Cohesion Sociale? Synthèse d’une Recherche. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from
  38. Gonzales, Vanna. 2010. “Italian Social Cooperatives and the Development of Civic Capacity: A Case of Cooperative Renewal?” Affinities 4(1):225–251Google Scholar
  39. Greenberg, Edward. 1986. Workplace Democracy: The Political Effects of Participation. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University PressGoogle Scholar
  40. Harrington, Keith. 2013. “New Cuba: Beach Head for Economic Democracy Beyond Capitalism.” TruthouL Retrieved March 27, 2014 from
  41. Hansmann, Henry. 1996. The Ownership of Enterprise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University PressGoogle Scholar
  42. Hoe, Sussana. 1978, The Man Who Gave His Company Away: A Biography of Ernest Bader Founder of the Scott Bader Commonwealth. London: HeinemannGoogle Scholar
  43. International Co-operative Alliance ICA. 2011. Statement on Co-operative Identity. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from
  44. Jensen, Anthony. 2011. “Saving Companies Worth Saving: Spain Pioneers a Sustainable Model of Democratic Corporate Governance.” Economic and Industrial Democracy 4(2):139–161Google Scholar
  45. Jensen, Anthony. 2012. “Insolvency, Employee Rights, and Employee Buy-Outs: A Strategy for Restructuring.” Sydney, Australia: University of Sydney. Unpublished PhD dissertationGoogle Scholar
  46. Kealey, Greg, and Bryan Palmer. 1987. Dreaming of What Might Be: The Knights of Labour in Ontario, 1880–1890. Toronto: New Hogtown PressGoogle Scholar
  47. Kruse, Douglas, Richard Freeman, and Joseph Blasi, eds. 2010. Shared Capitalism at Work: Employee Ownership, Profit Sharing, Gainsharing, and Broad-Based Stock Options. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago PressGoogle Scholar
  48. Logue, John. 2006. Economics, Cooperation, and Employee Ownership: The Emilia Romagna Model — In More Detail. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from http://community-wealth.comLpdfs/articles-publications/outside-us/article-logue.pdf
  49. Irizar, Ifizio and McLeod, Greg. 2010. 32 Claves Empresariales de Mondragon. Ofiati: ACDGoogle Scholar
  50. Malleson, Tom. 2014. After Occupy: Economic Democracy for the 21st Century. Oxford, UK: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  51. McCain, Roger A. 1999. “The Mystery of Worker Buyouts of Bankrupt Firms: An Explanation in Terms of Learning by Doing and Specific Human Capital.” Economic Analysis: A Journal of Enterprise and Participation 2(3): 165–177Google Scholar
  52. Melnyk, George. 1985. The Search for Community: From Utopia to a Co-operative Society. Montreal: Black Rose BooksGoogle Scholar
  53. Navarra, Cecilia. 2010. “Collective Accumulation of Capital in Italian Worker Cooperatives: Between Employment Insurance and ‘We-Rationality’: An Empirical Investigation.” Euricse Working Papers, No. 004/10Google Scholar
  54. Novaes, Henrique. 2007. O fetiche da tecnologia: A experiencia das fcibricas recuperadas. Sao Paolo: Expressdo PopularGoogle Scholar
  55. Pateman, Carole. 1970. Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  56. Paton, Rob. 1989. Reluctant Entrepreneurs: The Extent, Achievements, and Significance of Worker Takeovers in Europe. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University PressGoogle Scholar
  57. Pineiro-Hamecker, Camila, ed. 2013 Cooperatives and Socialism: A View from Cuba. Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacmillanGoogle Scholar
  58. Pérotin, Virginie, 2006. “Entry, Exit, and the Business Cycle: Are Cooperatives Different?” Journal of Comparative Economics 34(2):295–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pérotin, Virginie. 2012, March 15-16. “Workers’ Cooperatives: Good, Sustainable Jobs in the Community.” Paper presented at the “Promoting the Understanding of Cooperatives for a Better World” conference (European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises), San Servolo, Venice, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  60. Potter, Beatrice. 2004. Co-operative Movement in Great Britain. London: Swan SonnenscheinGoogle Scholar
  61. Quarter, Jack. 2000. Beyond the Bottom Line: Socially Innovative Business Owners. Westport, Conn: Quorum BooksGoogle Scholar
  62. Quarter, Jack, Laurie Mook, and Ann Armstrong, A. 2009. Understanding the Social Economy: A Canadian Perspective. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto PressGoogle Scholar
  63. Rebón, Julian. 2007. La empresa de la autonomia: Trabajadores recuperando la producción. Buenos Aires: Colectivo Ediciones/PicasoGoogle Scholar
  64. Ruggeri, Andres, ed. 2009. Las Empresas Recuperadas: Autogestión Obrera en Argentina y America Latina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, Universidad de Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  65. Ruggeri, Andres, ed. 2010. Las Empresas Recuperadas: Autogestión Obrera en Argentina y America Latina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, Universidad de Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  66. Ruggeri, Andres, and Marcelo Vieta. 2015. “Argentina’s Worker-Recuperated Enterprises, 2010–2013: A Synthesis of Recent Empirical Findings.” Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, 4(1):75–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Russell, Raymond, ed. 1995. Utopia in Zion: The Israeli Experience with Worker Cooperatives., Albany, New York: State University of New York PressGoogle Scholar
  68. Sauser, William. 2009. “Sustaining Employee Owned Companies: Seven Recommendations.” Journal of Business Ethics, 84:151–164Google Scholar
  69. Shaffer, Jack. 1999. Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement. Lanham, MD: ScarecrowGoogle Scholar
  70. Spear, Roger. 2010. Co-op Hybrids. Plenary at ICA Co-ops Research Conference. Lyon, FranceGoogle Scholar
  71. Vanek, Jaroslav. 1977. The Labor-Managed Economy: Essays. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University PressGoogle Scholar
  72. Vieta, Marcelo. 2010. “The Social Innovations of Autogestión in Argentina’s Worker Recuperated Enterprises: Cooperatively Organizing Productive Life in Hard Times.” Labor Studies Journal 35(3):295–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Vieta, Marcelo. 2012. “Cuba’s Coming Cooperative Economy? Reflections from Two Recent Field Trips.” Socialist Project: E-Bulletin 667. Retrieved on March 15,2014 from
  74. Vieta, Marcelo. 2013. “The Emergence of the Empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores: A Political Economic and Sociological Appraisal of Two Decades of Self-Management in Argentina.” Euricse Working Paper n. 55113Google Scholar
  75. Vieta, Marcelo. 2014. “Learning in Struggle: Argentina’s New Worker Cooperatives as Transformative Learning Organizations.” Relations IndustrieIles/Industrial Relations, 69(1):186–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Vieta, Marcelo, Sara Depedri, and Antonella Carrano. 2016. The Italian Road to Recuperating Enterprises and the Legge Marcora Worker Buyouts: A Report on Italy’s Worker-Recuperated Enterprises in Times of Crisis. Trento, Italy: European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social EnterprisesGoogle Scholar
  77. Vieta, Marcelo, Manuel Larrabure, and Daniel Schugurensky. 2012. “Social Businesses in Twenty-First Century Latin America: The Cases of Argentina and Venezuela.” Pp. 131–159 in Businesses with a Difference: Balancing the Social and the Economic, edited by L. Mook, J. Quarter, and S. Ryan. Toronto: University of Toronto PressGoogle Scholar
  78. Vieta, Marcelo, and Andres Ruggeri. 2009. “The Worker-Recuperated Enterprises as Workers’ Cooperatives: The Conjunctures, Challenges, and Innovations of Self-Management in Argentina and Latinamerica.” Pp. 178–225 in Co-operatives in a Global Economy: The Challenges of Co-operation Across Borders, edited by J. J. McMurtry and D. Reed. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars PublishingGoogle Scholar
  79. Webb, Tom, and George Cheney. 2014. “Worker-Owned-and-Governed Co-operatives and the Wider Co-operative Movement: Challenges and Opportunities Within and Beyond the Global Economic Crisis.” Pp. 64–88 in The Routledge Companion to Alternative Economic Organization, edited by M. Parker, G. Cheney, V. Fournier, and C. Land. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  80. Whitman, John R. 2012. “Education for the Social Economy.” Pp. 243-266 in Business with a Difference: Balancing the Social and Economic, edited by L. Mook, J. Quarter, and S. Ryan. Toronto: University of Toronto PressGoogle Scholar
  81. Whyte, William, F., and Kathleen Whyte. 1988. Making Mondragon. Ithaca: ILR PressGoogle Scholar
  82. Wilkinson, Paul, and Jack Quarter. 1996. Building a Community-Controlled Economy: The Evangeline Co-operative Experience. Toronto: University of Toronto PressGoogle Scholar
  83. Wilkinson, Richard and Kate Pickett. 2010. The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Eveiyone. London: Penguin BooksGoogle Scholar
  84. Zevi, Alberto. 1990. “The Financing of Cooperatives in Italy.” Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics 61:353–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Vieta
    • 1
  • Jack Quarter
    • 2
  • Roger Spear
    • 3
  • Alexandra Moskovskaya
    • 4
  1. 1.Argentina
  2. 2.Canada
  3. 3.UK
  4. 4.Russia

Personalised recommendations