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Employee-owned firms in France

Fathi Fakhfakh (CRED, Université Paris Panthéon Assas, Paris, France)
Nathalie Magne (Université Montpellier 3, Montpellier, France)
Thibault Mirabel (EconomiX, Paris-Nanterre University, Nanterre, France)
Virginie Pérotin (University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership

ISSN: 2514-7641

Article publication date: 19 July 2023

Issue publication date: 10 October 2023




France is the third country in Europe after Italy and Spain for the number of employee-owned firms, with some 2,600 worker cooperatives (SCOPs). The authors propose a comprehensive review of SCOPs and any barriers to their expansion.


The authors analyse relevant legislation; review the rich empirical economic literature on SCOPs; and offer new descriptive empirical evidence comparing SCOPs and other French firms.


SCOPs benefit from a consistent legal framework and a well-structured and supportive cooperative movement. Cooperative laws allow attracting external capital, provide barriers against degeneration and encourage profit allocations that favour investment and labour. SCOPs are distributed across a wide range of industries; are larger than conventional firms, as capital intensive, more productive and survive better. Despite this good performance their number remains modest, perhaps because of information barriers.

Research limitations/implications

An examination of the Italian and Spanish experiences and the relationship between SCOPs and the French labour movement might contribute to explaining the modest number of SCOPs.


The first comprehensive review of French worker cooperatives in four decades and the first with extensive comparative data on SCOPs and conventional French firms. With some of the best data on worker cooperatives in the world, findings have international relevance.



This paper was commissioned by Copenhagen Business School as part of the project “Analytical Themes on Democratic Enterprises--Drivers and Barriers for Employee Ownership” funded by the Danish Business Authority. The authors thank the project lead, Niels Mygind, as well as two anonymous referees for their very helpful comments. We are also grateful to Insee (Institut national de la Statistique et des Etudes économiques) for permission to access official datasets via the secure data access centre CASD (Centre d'accès sécurisé aux données) and to the French confederation of worker cooperatives CG Scop (Confédération Générale des Scop) for communicating data on worker cooperatives.


Fakhfakh, F., Magne, N., Mirabel, T. and Pérotin, V. (2023), "Employee-owned firms in France", Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 101-127.



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