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Worker Cooperatives and Democratic Governance

  • John Pencavel


    (Stanford University)

A worker co-operative is a firm that is owned and managed by those who work in it. This paper provides a selective review of research in economics on worker cooperatives. It concentrates on the volatility of earnings and employment in the co-ops compared with conventional capitalist firms; on the long-term viability of co-ops; on the relative productive efficiency of co-ops; and on problems of democratic governance within co-ops. Using modern empirical methods applied to large numbers of observations, recent research has substantially enhanced our understanding of worker co-ops.

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Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-003.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:12-003
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  1. 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 1290-320, September.
  2. Richard Blundell & Stephen Bond, 2000. "GMM Estimation with persistent panel data: an application to production functions," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 321-340.
  3. Nerlove, Marc, 1971. "A Note on Error Components Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(2), pages 383-96, March.
  4. Fakhfakh F. & Perotin V. & Gago M., 2009. "Productivity, Capital and Labor in Labor-Managed and Conventional Firms," Working Papers ERMES 0910, ERMES, University Paris 2.
  5. Philip Mellizo & Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2014. "Workplace democracy in the lab," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 313-328, 07.
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  7. John Pencavel & Luigi Pistaferri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2006. "Wages, Employment, and Capital in Capitalist and Worker-Owned Firms," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 23-44, October.
  8. Burdín, Gabriel, 2012. "Does workers' control affect firm survival? Evidence from Uruguay," AICCON Working Papers 108-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
  9. Cable, John & Wilson, Nicholas, 1989. "Profit-Sharing and Productivity: An Analysis of UK Engineering Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 366-75, June.
  10. Kruse, Douglas L. & Freeman, Richard B. & Blasi, Joseph R. (ed.), 2010. "Shared Capitalism at Work," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226056951, March.
  11. Ben-ner, Avner, 1988. "The life cycle of worker-owned firms in market economies : A theoretical analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 287-313, October.
  12. Dow, G & Putterman, L, 1996. "Why Capital (Usually) Hires Labor : An Assessment of Proposed Explanations," Discussion Papers dp97-03, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  13. Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 1993. "A Political and Economic Case for the Democratic Enterprise," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 75-100, April.
  14. Bloom, Nicholas & Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Human Resource Management and Productivity," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  15. Pencavel, John & Craig, Ben, 1994. "The Empirical Performance of Orthodox Models of the Firm: Conventional Firms and Worker Cooperatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 718-44, August.
  16. Lamoreaux, Naomi R, 1998. "Partnerships, Corporations, and the Theory of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 66-71, May.
  17. Derek C. Jones & Panu Kalmi, 2009. "Trust, Inequality And The Size Of The Co-Operative Sector: Cross-Country Evidence," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 80(2), pages 165-195, 06.
  18. 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.
  19. Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2005. "Profit Sharing and the Role of Professional Partnerships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 131-171.
  20. Jones, Derek C & Kato, Takao, 1995. "The Productivity Effects of Employee Stock-Ownership Plans and Bonuses: Evidence from Japanese Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 391-414, June.
  21. repec:tep:teppwp:wp1108 is not listed on IDEAS
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