With the publication of a White Paper in October 1977, the Prime Minister and the Government have signalled their intention of setting up a new Co‐operative Development Agency at an early date. Assuming that the report's detailed recommendations are followed, then one of the main tasks of the new CDA will be to ‘identify, promote and encourage viable projects to be undertaken on a co‐operative basis.’ At least for the life of this government, support for new co‐operative enterprises seems likely to form part of official policy. The aim of this article is to contribute to this wider re‐opening of the debate about whether co‐operative production offers a practical middle way between private capitalist and state‐owned business. By co‐operative production I mean a system under which the ultimate control and ownership of an enterprise rests not with outsiders — whether private capitalists or state bureaucrats — but with all those working in it. What I shall attempt to argue is that such enterprises, if they are correctly structured, if they enjoy fully professional management, and if they enjoy adequate access to capital and markets, do indeed offer a practical and even a promising third way.
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