Alternatives to Capitalism

Nick Lawrence V121NQND at
Tue Jan 10 10:50:31 MST 1995

> Mann also might look at the empirical experience on Mondragon, e.g., in
> Whyte and Whyte, making Mondragon (Cornell ILR Press), Thomas and Logan,
> Mondragon: An Economic Analysis, and a book the author of which I forget
> called We Build the Road As We Travel.

There could easily be (and perhaps already is) a list devoted wholly to the
question of cooperative worker ownership, its history as idea and practice,
contemporary manifestations, prospects, etc. In addition to the Mondragon books
mentioned above, one might add the following:

Bowles, Samuel & Herbert Gintis. Democracy & Capitalism. New York, 1986.

Mason, Ronald. Participatory and Workplace Democracy: A Theoretical Critique
of Liberalism. Carbondale, 1982.

Gunn, Christopher. Workers' Self-Management in the United States. Ithaca, 1985.

Russel, Raymond. Sharing Ownership in the Workplace. Albany, 1984.

Rosen, Corey et al. Employee Ownership in America: the Equity Solution. Boston,

Oakeshott, Robert. The Case for Workers' Co-ops. London, 1978.

What's curious to me is how the current language of corporate restructuring
borrows or mimics key concepts of the worker ownership movement, as if in
recognition of their efficacy: inducing employees to behave as if they were
owners of the businesses they work for ("process ownership" in consultant-
speak), de-hierarchalization, handing limited decision-making power to worker-
managed teams, etc. The question becomes, can the disparity between actual and
pseudo-ownership, or between limited decision-making power granted to raise
productivity and full democratic control over a company's future, be sustained
indefinitely? Mondragon is in many ways a special case, but the prevalence of
superficially democratic initiatives in a variety of workplaces today suggests
that the ideas behind employee ownership may have a chance of more than token
Nick Lawrence


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