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Organizing sustainable democratic firms: processes of regeneration as the design of new models of cooperation


  • Sébastien Gand

    (CGS i3 - Centre de Gestion Scientifique i3 - Mines Paris - PSL (École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris) - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Mathias Béjean

    (Université Paris-Est - UPE - Université Paris-Est)


In a period of economic and legitimacy crises for firms, there is a current appeal on alternative firms to the conventional capitalist and hierarchical one, especially ones with a democratic form such as cooperatives. But for a long time the "degeneration" pattern of democratic firms, namely their economic failure or the abandonment of democratic functioning, has been pointed out. Even if such a deterministic rationale has been contested, the main difficulty for democratic firms remains their capacity to overcome degeneration crises. This paper investigates this question through the case of a 400-member democratic professional service firm, studied during three years with an intervention research method. It shows how such a firm designed organizational outcomes to a twofold crisis of performance and governance. It contributes to a better understanding of the conditions of sustainability of democratic firms by emphasizing the possibility of designing new models of cooperation, which integrate various constraints and do not compromise between antagonist logics within the firm.

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  • Sébastien Gand & Mathias Béjean, 2013. "Organizing sustainable democratic firms: processes of regeneration as the design of new models of cooperation," Post-Print hal-00881721, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00881721
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prof. M. ROSNER, 1985. "Theories Of Cooperative Degeneration And The Experience Of The Kibbutz," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 527-538, 10-12.
    2. Punita Bhatt Datta & Robert Gailey, 2012. "Empowering Women through Social Entrepreneurship: Case Study of a Women's Cooperative in India," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 36(3), pages 569-587, May.
    3. Bruce E. Kaufman, 2000. "The Early Institutionalists on Industrial Democracy and Union Democracy," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 21(2), pages 189-209, April.
    4. Roger Spear, 2004. "Governance in Democratic Member‐Based Organisations," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(1), pages 33-60, March.
    5. Walther Müller-Jentsch, 1995. "Industrial Democracy," International Journal of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(3), pages 50-60, September.
    6. Yohanan STRYJAN, 1994. "UNDERSTANDING COOPERATIVES: The Reproduction Perspective," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 59-80, January.
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