Moving beyond the Crisis: The Mondragon Cooperativist Group
Sociological Theory Universitat de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain
Business Economics Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Sabadell, Spain
Psychology and Sociology Universidad de Zaragoza Huesca, Spain
Economic crises generate problems for workers, states and businesses. Many workers lose their jobs, others at risk of unemployment, accept bad working conditions and give up rights. Many companies close or abandon their plans for growth. States also fall into debt and lose their legitimacy in front of citizenship. Current debate about how to get out of this situation mostly focuses on the greater or lesser role of the state's intervention into economy. However, other possibilities can be found in current empirical realities that can never be seen by the analytical tools of a sociology focused on impossibility (Wright, in press), unfortunately still widespread. An analysis of real utopias is thus urgent, important. One of these realities is the competitive cooperativism developed by the Mondragon Group. In this paper, authors will present a case study of this pioneering and unique experience of cooperativism, focusing on two aspects: the extent to which mechanisms of quality of work and quality of life, as developed in this cooperative experience, are linked to their growth and productivity. The analysis leads to considerations for current economic crisis.
Current scientific literature on cooperativism outline issues such as the significance of the commitment of workers (Guerrieri, 2008), the link between incentives and values (Tabellini, 2008), and the idea of companies belonging to networks for local job mobility (Erikson & Lindgren, 2009). The study here presented adds to those with analyses of positive experiences and good practices from the Mondragon case, and how European enterprises could account for them, in order to reach the EU Lisbon goal of "productivity and better jobs for all". This work is part of a larger joint project between professors Wright and Flecha on plausible alternatives to capitalist economy. Contrary to sociologies of impossibility, current sociology should consider empirical realities that are drawing elements that can contribute to the re-foundation of its economy and its various social spheres.