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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…

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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The paper leverages unpublished primary and secondary data from Centro Studi Legacoop databank, the Aida-Bureau Van Dijk databank and the Cooperative Registry of the Ministry of Economic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

Abstract

Details

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

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