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The emergence of the empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores: A political economic and sociological appraisal of two decades of self-management in Argentina


  • Marcelo Vieta


The crisis of Argentina�s neoliberal model that escalated throughout the 1990s, driven in part by the zealousness of how IMF-sanctioned structural reforms were implemented, would eventually culminate in the model�s temporary implosion over the years spanning the turn of the millennium. For workers living through this crisis, traditional union tactics would prove unresponsive to the neoliberal juggernaut, while the state was on the defensive as business bankruptcy, informal work, unemployment, and poverty rates soared to unprecedented levels during this period. But the crisis of neoliberalism that so deeply affected the everyday lives of Argentina�s working people and their families also proved to be, for some of them, an opening for experimenting with other possibilities for organizing production and economic life. As businesses increasingly failed, more and more workers from a broad cross-section of Argentina�s urban-based economy began taking matters into their own hands by occupying and self-managing the troubled workplaces that had been employing them as worker cooperatives. Today throughout Argentina, almost 9,500 workers selfmanage over 200 empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores (worker-recuperated enterprises, or ERTs) in sectors as varied as printing and publishing, media, metallurgy, health provisioning, foodstuffs, shipbuilding, waste management, construction, education, tourism, and energy. The aim of this working paper is to provide a political economic and sociological overview of the rise and establishment of ERTs in Argentina over the past two decades. It does so in order to introduce ERTs to readers that might not be familiar with the Argentine experience of workplace conversions to worker cooperatives and their recent historical emergence. It also gives context to what is arguably, as I will detail in forthcoming research, a new form of hybrid social economy organization�a �solidarity worker cooperative/work integration social enterprise.� In this respect, ERTs are a type of hybrid labour-managed firm that uniquely formed, in the Argentine political economic and sociological context, from out of the takeover and conversion of a formerly investor-owned or proprietary business into a worker cooperative by workers themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcelo Vieta, 2013. "The emergence of the empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores: A political economic and sociological appraisal of two decades of self-management in Argentina," Euricse Working Papers 1355, Euricse (European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises).
  • Handle: RePEc:trn:utwpeu:1355

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ben-ner, Avner, 1984. "On the stability of the cooperative type of organization," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 247-260, September.
    2. Saul Estrin & Derek C. Jones, 1992. "The Viability of Employee-Owned Firms: Evidence from France," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(2), pages 323-338, January.
    3. Francois R. Velde & Marcelo Veracierto, 2000. "Dollarization in Argentina," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 24-37.
    4. 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.
    5. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    6. Ben-Ner, Avner, 1988. "Comparative empirical observations on worker-owned and capitalist firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-31, March.
    7. Mirta Vuotto, 2012. "Organizational dynamics of worker cooperatives in Argentina," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 6(1), pages 85-97, March.
    8. Leonardo Becchetti & Stefano Castriota & Sara Depedri, 2010. "Working in the profit versus not for profit sector: what difference does it make? An inquiry on preferences of voluntary and involuntary movers," Euricse Working Papers 1005, Euricse (European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises).
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    Cited by:

    1. Ignacio Bretos Fernández & Jon Morandeira Arca, 2016. "La economía social ante la actual crisis económica en la comunidad autónoma del País Vasco
      [Social economy and economic crisis in the basque country]
      ," REVESCO: Revista de estudios cooperativos, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Escuela de Estudios Cooperativos, issue 122, pages 07-33.
    2. repec:ssi:jouesi:v:4:y:2017:i:4:p:526-539 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Worker buy-outs; worker-recuperated enterprises; empresas recuperadas por sus trabajadores; business conversions to cooperatives; worker cooperatives; selfmanagement; labour movements in Argentina; political economy of Argentina;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J54 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Producer Cooperatives; Labor Managed Firms
    • D29 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Other


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