This volume explores an expansive array of organizational imaginaries, or understandings of organizational possibilities, with a focus on how collectivist-democratic organizations offer alternatives to conventional for-profit managerial enterprises. These include worker and consumer cooperatives and other enterprises that, to varying degrees, (1) emphasize social values over profit; (2) are owned not by shareholders but by workers, consumers, or other stakeholders; (3) employ democratic forms of managing their operations; and (4) have social ties to the organization based on moral and emotional commitments. The contributors to this volume examine how these enterprises generate solidarity among members, network with other organizations and communities, contend with market pressures, and enhance their larger organizational ecosystems. In this introductory paper, the authors put forward an inclusive organizational typology whose continuums account for four key sources of variation – values, ownership, management, and social relations – and argue that enterprises fall between these two poles of the collectivist-democratic organization and the for-profit managerial enterprise. Drawing from this volume’s empirical studies, the authors situate these market actors within fields of competition and contestation shaped not just by state action and legal frameworks, but also by the presence or absence of social movements, labor unions, and meta-organizations. This typology challenges conventional conceptualizations of for-profit managerial enterprises as ideals or norms, reconnects past models of organizing among marginalized communities with contemporary and future possibilities, and offers activists and entrepreneurs a sense of the wide range of possibilities for building enterprises that differ from dominant models.
We thank Michael Lounsbury for the opportunity to co-edit this volume and for his advice throughout the process, and Helen Beddow, Danielle Crow, Alice Ford, Akila Lakshmanan, Katy Mathers, Carys Morley, Sangeetha Rajan, S. Rajachitra, Amber Stone-Galilee, and other Emerald staff for their support in bringing the volume to publication. Howard Lune, Jackie Olvera, Marc Schneiberg, and Jason Spicer provided thoughtful feedback on earlier drafts of this paper. Ty Hoffman helped with sourcing the Asimov reference. In addition, numerous experts graciously shared their insights by blind peer-reviewing this volume’s manuscripts. Our sincere thanks go to these reviewers, who included Jake Apakarian, Matthew Baggetta, Stefan Beljean, Christof Brandtner, Ed Carberry, Gabriel Chiu, Barry Cohen, Cyrus Dioun, Maria Halbinger, Stephane Jaumier, Suntae Kim, Chris Land, Steve Lopez, Howard Lune, John McNutt, M. Paola Ometto, Jonathan Preminger, Nevena Radoynovska, Manuel Rosaldo, Marc Schneiberg, Laura Hanson Schlachter, Katherine Sobering, and Jason Spicer. We also thank the contributors for all their work on behalf of this volume, as well as the larger group of scholars who participated in the 2017 Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) mini-conference “Seeking a More Just and Egalitarian Economy: Realizing the Future via Co-operatives, Communes, and Other Collectives” in Lyon, France, co-organized by Katherine with Joyce Rothschild.
Chen, K.K. and Chen, V.T. (2021), "“What If” and “If Only” Futures Beyond Conventional Capitalism and Bureaucracy: Imagining Collectivist and Democratic Possibilities for Organizing", Chen, K.K. and Chen, V.T. (Ed.) Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 72), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20210000072001
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