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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 31 December 2020

Silvia Sacchetti and Ermanno Celeste Tortia

This study aims to examine the relationships between the rules that a cooperative membership decides upon and members' motives for action. It considers individual self-interest in…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the relationships between the rules that a cooperative membership decides upon and members' motives for action. It considers individual self-interest in relation with motives that are consistent with the values of cooperation.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper comprises two parts. The first is theoretical and discusses cooperative governance's features in the context of individual motives. The second part is empirical and based on survey data from Italian multistakeholder, worker-run social cooperatives. It uses cross-sectional data gathered from 4,134 workers and 310 managers in 310 cooperatives in Italy to provide evidence of rules and individual motives. Regression analysis confirms the existence of a linkage between individual self-interest and motives.

Findings

Rules mainly, but not exclusively, play an enabling function, which implies responding to both nonmonetary and monetary individual motives. With greater articulation within institutions – through the definition of multiple rights for accessing decision-making – the authors expect increases in individual capabilities to match motives with specific organizational rules in pursuit of consistent ends. This is confirmed by the association that the authors found between individual motives and commitment.

Research limitations/implications

The authors’ illustration is limited to one specific type of cooperative, the social cooperative, in which prosocial motives are expected to be stronger than in other cooperative forms, although one could say that all cooperative models emphasize procommunity and prosocial aims. Data are cross-sectional and do not allow for the identification of causality, only of statistical relations' strength.

Practical implications

The continuous scrutiny and adaptation of motives and means imply that cooperators communicate and engage in a learning process.

Originality/value

While the institutional spheres that support investor-owned organizations and self-interested profit-maximizing behavior have been analyzed, a framework that accommodates personal control rights and a richer view of individual motives is lacking. The value added from the paper is to suggest one.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 48 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 27 June 2023

Marco Lomuscio, Ermanno Celeste Tortia and Andrea Cori

In Italy, worker cooperatives (WCs), whose workers hold major control rights over collectively-owned assets, are the leading vehicle for the promotion and development of employee…

707

Abstract

Purpose

In Italy, worker cooperatives (WCs), whose workers hold major control rights over collectively-owned assets, are the leading vehicle for the promotion and development of employee ownership. Worker cooperatives are present in all regions and in most economic sectors, employing about 506,000 workers and generating a turnover of about €22 bn. Despite their history and diffusion, the high prevalence of WCs in Italy is under-researched and -thematised and requires new research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper leverages unpublished primary and secondary data from Centro Studi Legacoop databank, the Aida-Bureau Van Dijk databank and the Cooperative Registry of the Ministry of Economic Development (CRMED) to explain the spread of WCs in Italy.

Findings

This paper reveals descriptive statistics of WCs and investigates their distribution across economic sectors and regions, their economic and financial performance and gives an overview of the relevant legislation. The paper indicates that older small- and medium-sized cooperatives located in central and north-eastern Italy perform best economically. However, in recent years, an increasing number of young cooperatives has emerged in South Italy thanks to favourable legislation, cooperative finance and the diffusion of cooperative know-how. Limitations to such results are reported in the conclusions.

Originality/value

The paper sheds light on past and recent development trends of WCs in Italy, highlights their growth in South Italy and revitalises the debate on the drivers, structures and rationales of employee-owned enterprises in Italy. Findings generate implications for research and practice. Given the tendency of WCs to better protect jobs than investor-owned enterprises, the spread of these enterprises may help workers find better and more stable jobs, counter-cyclically mitigating the dangerous effects of macro- and meso-economic fluctuations and instability.

Details

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2514-7641

Keywords

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