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Is there life after degeneration? The organizational life cycle of cooperatives under a ‘grow‐or‐die’ dichotomy

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  • Ignacio Bretos
  • Anjel Errasti
  • Carmen Marcuello

Abstract

This article provides an in‐depth, longitudinal analysis combining real‐time and retrospective data on a set of Mondragon's industrial cooperatives that are organized as international groups. We examine the life cycle of these international cooperative groups, which is expected to evolve differently to that of small‐ and medium‐sized cooperatives that operate exclusively on a local scale. The article is theoretically informed by the cooperative life cycle theory, as well as by recent insights from the degeneration and regeneration theses. Our analysis yields an intricate picture of the evolution of cooperatives faced with a ‘grow‐or‐die’ dichotomy. On the one hand, our findings reject the highly simplistic and deterministic view of the degeneration thesis by demonstrating that these cooperatives can mobilize resources to revitalize cooperative values and practices. On the other, we find that regeneration may not occur in a consistent, sequential fashion as the previous literature suggests, but rather degenerative and regenerative tendencies can occur simultaneously, even leading to long‐lasting, unresolvable situations. In light of this, the article asks future research to draw on power‐aware and politically informed approaches for further understanding of how cooperatives manage the tensions at each organizational stage of their life cycle, and of which organizational actors benefit, and how, from reversing some degenerative tendencies while maintaining others intact.

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  • Ignacio Bretos & Anjel Errasti & Carmen Marcuello, 2020. "Is there life after degeneration? The organizational life cycle of cooperatives under a ‘grow‐or‐die’ dichotomy," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 91(3), pages 435-458, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:91:y:2020:i:3:p:435-458
    DOI: 10.1111/apce.12258
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Kiri Langmead, 2016. "Challenging the Degeneration Thesis: the Role of Democracy in Worker Cooperatives?," Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, vol. 5(1), pages 79-98.
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    Cited by:

    1. Noreen Byrne, 2023. "Cooperative Lifecycle Framing—Reinvention or Regeneration and Does It Matter?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(7), pages 1-14, April.
    2. Cemil Ozan Soydemir & Mehmet Erçek, 2023. "The resurrection of earlier imprints post mortem: Explaining the Turkish agricultural cooperative movement with an imprinting theory lens, 1888–1937," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(4), pages 1199-1232, December.
    3. Anjel Errasti & Ignacio Bretos & Carmen Marcuello, 2023. "Classifying the degree of cooperative multinationality: Case study of a French multinational cooperative," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(4), pages 1061-1084, December.
    4. Mercè Sala‐Ríos, 2024. "What are the determinants affecting cooperatives’ profitability? Evidence from Spain," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(1), pages 85-111, March.
    5. Antonio Martos‐Pedrero & Luis J. Belmonte‐Ureña & Francisco Joaquín Cortés‐García, 2024. "Are there any differences in the corporate social responsibility strategy of fruit and vegetable production‐commercialization cooperatives and other companies operating in southeastern Spain?," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 95(1), pages 249-274, March.

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