IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Efficiency in Employee-Owned Enterprises: An Econometric Case Study of Mondragon


  • Arando, Saioa

    () (Mondragon University)

  • Gago, Monica

    () (Mondragon University)

  • Jones, Derek C.

    () (Hamilton College)

  • Kato, Takao

    () (Colgate University)


We provide the first econometric study of efficiency for a member of the Mondragon group of worker cooperatives. Eroski is a retail distribution chain and, most unusually, there are two distinct types of hypermarkets: (i) cooperatives with significant employee ownership and voice; and (ii) GESPAs with modest employee ownership and limited voice. For supermarkets the chain includes conventional firms with no employee ownership as well. Our key data are a panel of monthly observations from February 2006 through May 2008, a total of 9,800 observations for supermarkets and 2,150 for hypermarkets. By estimating first difference models we find that hypermarket stores with cooperative ownership grow sales significantly faster than GESPA stores. For supermarkets overall we find no significant difference in performance among the three types of stores. However, for a particular segment of the supermarket called SUPERMARKET CITY (a subgroup of small supermarkets for which having "better customer service" employees is particularly important), cooperatives are found to outperform conventional stores. To investigate mechanisms that help explain why cooperatives are better performers we provide additional evidence that takes account of the role of the more extensive opportunities for employee involvement and training, and stronger economic incentives that exist in cooperatives. Finally, while cooperative members are better paid than their peers in comparable firms, individual-level data also show that job satisfaction is actually lower for workers in cooperatives than for GESPA workers. Though this may be a simple reflection of high worker expectation in cooperatives, cooperatives may well be indeed a "high-stress work system." The overall assessment of cooperatives will need to be nuanced.

Suggested Citation

  • Arando, Saioa & Gago, Monica & Jones, Derek C. & Kato, Takao, 2011. "Efficiency in Employee-Owned Enterprises: An Econometric Case Study of Mondragon," IZA Discussion Papers 5711, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5711

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2004. "What's driving the new economy?: the benefits of workplace innovation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages 97-116, February.
    2. Jones, Derek C & Backus, David K, 1977. "British Producer Cooperatives in the Footwear Industry: An Empirical Evaluation of the Theory of Financing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(347), pages 488-510, September.
    3. Joshi, Sumit & Smith, Stephen C., 2008. "Endogenous formation of coops and cooperative leagues," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 217-233, October.
    4. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kong, Fanmin & Bosley, Stacie A. & Burns, W. Allen & Butler, Richard & Han, Tzu-Shian & Liu, Nien-Chi & Park, Yong-Seung, 1999. "Workplace Organization And Human Resource Practices: The Retail Food Industry," Working Papers 14315, University of Minnesota, The Food Industry Center.
    5. Brent Boning & Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2007. "Opportunity Counts: Teams and the Effectiveness of Production Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 613-650.
    6. Takao Kato & Motohiro Morishima, 1995. "The Productivity Effects of Human Resource Management Practices: Evidence from New Japanese Panel Data," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_143, Levy Economics Institute.
    7. Burdín, Gabriel & Dean, Andrés, 2009. "New evidence on wages and employment in worker cooperatives compared with capitalist firms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 517-533, December.
    8. Saul Estrin & Jan Hanousek & Evzen Kocenda & Jan Svejnar, 2009. "The Effects of Privatization and Ownership in Transition Economies," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 699-728, September.
    9. Dow,Gregory K., 2003. "Governing the Firm," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521818537, March.
    10. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
    11. Bonin, John P & Jones, Derek C & Putterman, Louis, 1993. "Theoretical and Empirical Studies of Producer Cooperatives: Will Ever the Twain Meet?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1290-1320, September.
    12. Defourney, Jacques & Estrin, Saul & Jones, Derek C., 1985. "The effects of workers' participation on enterprise performance : Empirical evidence from French cooperatives," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 197-217, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mikko MAKINEN & Derek C. JONES, 2015. "Comparative Efficiency Between Cooperative, Savings And Commercial Banks In Europe Using The Frontier Approach," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(3), pages 401-420, September.
    2. Malleson, Tom, 2014. "After Occupy: Economic Democracy for the 21st Century," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199330102.
    3. Natália P. Monteiro & Odd Rune Straume, 2016. "Are cooperatives more productive than investor-owned firms? Cross-industry evidence from Portugal," NIPE Working Papers 9/2016, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.

    More about this item


    employee ownership; producer cooperatives; labor managed firm; productive efficiency; Mondragon; shared capitalism;

    JEL classification:

    • J54 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Producer Cooperatives; Labor Managed Firms
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5711. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.