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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Katherine K. Chen and Victor Tan Chen

This volume explores an expansive array of organizational imaginaries, or understandings of organizational possibilities, with a focus on how collectivist-democratic

Abstract

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.

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Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Stéphane Jaumier and Thibault Daudigeos

Past research on collectivist-democratic organizations has attributed their distinctiveness to their socio-political goals and democratic decision-making and largely…

Abstract

Past research on collectivist-democratic organizations has attributed their distinctiveness to their socio-political goals and democratic decision-making and largely ignored their work processes. This ethnographic study examines how such organizations resist alienating forms of work even in the face of direct competition with for-profit companies. It focuses on Scopix, a French cooperative sheet-metal factory where the first author spent one year as a shop-floor worker. Cooperators there developed various practices to retain an emancipatory dimension to their work, regularly putting forward “craft ethics” as a counterweight to the sheet-metal industry’s drive to rationalize work processes. Drawing on the sociology of worth, the authors analyze how these practices emerged from the arrangements that workers made between the industrial world on the one side and the domestic and inspired worlds on the other. This study contributes to the literature into two main ways. First, the authors refine the sociology-of-worth framework by conceptualizing the emancipatory dimension of work as the result of ad hoc arrangements between different worlds. Second, the authors highlight the need for the literature on collectivist-democratic organizations to increase its focus on work, introducing the concept of work degeneration as a step in that direction.

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Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Jonathan Preminger

Following critiques of shareholder capitalism and calls for reform of the corporation, employee-owned firms have attracted public and government attention in the UK and…

Abstract

Following critiques of shareholder capitalism and calls for reform of the corporation, employee-owned firms have attracted public and government attention in the UK and elsewhere, based on the view that these alternative organizations serve a broader public purpose. However, despite attempts to broaden the measures for evaluating organizations and take seriously the social effects of business decisions, we lack a holistic framework for evaluating this public purpose that addresses aspirations like participation, democracy, equality, solidarity, and strong community relations alongside financial resilience and profitability. This study proposes that a solution can be found in Selznick’s concept of “moral community.” Selznick argued that community, conceived as a response to the perceived unravelling of the social fabric, plays a vital role in countering the excesses of capitalism. Using this as a yardstick to evaluate employee ownership (EO) in the UK, the author argues that the EO organizational field is indeed an embodiment of a moral community. It successfully infuses a broad range of social values into economic pursuits, nurtures an inclusive sense of the “common good,” and mitigates the alienation resulting from an increasingly marketized society. At the same time, the EO moral community does not reject capitalism as such, aspiring to connect with and reform existing political, financial, and legal structures as opposed to positioning its own institutions as an alternative to them. There are, therefore, limits to the challenge that the EO community levels against the current socioeconomic order.

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Carla Young

Scholarship on alternative organizations and cooperatives has argued that networks and intermediaries foster organizational form stability and protect…

Abstract

Scholarship on alternative organizations and cooperatives has argued that networks and intermediaries foster organizational form stability and protect collectivist-democratic organizations from rationalization as well as decoupling. This study of field-level organizing among food co-ops in the United States shows that rather than buffering collectivist organizations from conventional market and rationalization pressures, meta-organizations can also serve as a conduit for rationalizing pressures, subjecting vulnerable organizations to what I call quasi-coercive isomorphism. Using interviews of field participants, ethnographic observations of conferences, and content analysis of organizational documents, I examine the formation and impact of National Co+op Grocers, a meta-cooperative created to leverage scale and pool resources among food co-ops. I find that this meta-organization enforced grocery industry-oriented norms of operation, management, and presentation among its member organizations in return for providing mutual liability and economies of scale. This focus on select operationally scalable processes and structures for support generated isomorphic pressures that exposed, rather than sheltered, co-ops, especially smaller, resource-poor ones, from industry standards. The meta-organization thus promoted a sectorized model of more marketized practices for the field’s cooperatives that pushed co-ops to adopt conventional grocery store practices and distanced them from the practices of other cooperative form fields. Moreover, the potential of cooperative form-specific elements for scaling was not realized: collective ownership and democratic governance remained local concerns. These findings suggest that whether meso-level cooperation among cooperatives can support alternative form maintenance is contingent on the structure and scope of the meta-organization and on the perceived scalability of operational and governance elements of the cooperative organizational form.

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Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

M. Paola Ometto, Asma Zafar and Leanne Hedberg

Prior research has documented the importance of the state and social movements for the emergence and proliferation of alternative organizational forms. Yet, we lack a…

Abstract

Prior research has documented the importance of the state and social movements for the emergence and proliferation of alternative organizational forms. Yet, we lack a comprehensive and interactive understanding of the larger environment that sustains cooperatives and other collectivist-democratic organizations. Using the example of Brazil’s Solidarity Economy Movement, a longstanding social movement to address poverty and inequality, we describe how a multilevel ecosystem of organizations and institutions creates conditions favorable for the growth of alternative organizational forms – in this context, democratic cooperatives that the Movement calls solidarity economy enterprises (SEEs). Drawing from archival data, interviews, and a government survey of over 19,000 SEEs between 2005 and 2012, we map out the key actors at each level of the ecosystem, identifying three primary mechanisms by which these actors collectively enabled the creation and development of SEEs: (1) providing glue for action; (2) organizing for action; and (3) engaging in action. These mechanisms, in turn, allowed for greater communication and cohesion and the exchange of information and experiences among the Movement’s participants, thereby enhancing their interconnectedness and the institutionalization of their practices.

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

Keywords

To view the access options for this content please click here
Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Abstract

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Katherine Sobering

Collectivist organizations like worker cooperatives are known for requiring high levels of participation, striving toward community, and making space for affective…

Abstract

Collectivist organizations like worker cooperatives are known for requiring high levels of participation, striving toward community, and making space for affective relationships among their members. The emotional intensity of such organizations has long been considered both an asset and a burden: while personal relationships may generate solidarity and sustain commitment, interpersonal interactions can be emotionally intense and, if left unmanaged, can even lead to organizational demise. How do collectivist-democratic organizations manage emotions to create and sustain member commitment? This study draws on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in a worker-run, worker-recuperated business in Argentina to analyze the emotional dynamics of a democratic workplace. First, the author shows how members of the cooperative engage in emotional labor not only in their customer service, but also through their participation in lateral management and democratic governance. An analysis of individual feeling management, however, provides only a partial picture of emotional dynamics. Drawing on the theory of interaction ritual chains, the author argues that workplace practices like meetings and events can produce collective emotions that are critical to maintaining members’ commitment to the group. Finally, the author shows how interaction ritual chains operate in the BAUEN Cooperative, tracing how symbols of shared affiliation circulate through interactions and are reactivated through the confrontation of a common threat. The author concludes by reflecting on implications for future research on emotions in collectivist organizations and participatory workplaces more broadly.

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 24 March 2021

Jason Spicer and Christa R. Lee-Chuvala

Alternative enterprises – organizations that operate as a business while still also being driven by a social purpose – are sometimes owned by workers or other…

Abstract

Alternative enterprises – organizations that operate as a business while still also being driven by a social purpose – are sometimes owned by workers or other stakeholders, rather than shareholders. What role does ownership play in enabling alternative enterprises to prioritize substantively rational organizational values, like environmental sustainability and social equity, over instrumentally rational ones, like profit maximization? We situate this question at the intersection of research on: (1) stakeholder governance and mission drift in both hybrid and collectivist-democratic organizations; and (2) varieties of ownership of enterprise. Though these literatures suggest that ownership affects the ability of alternative enterprises to maintain their social missions, the precise nature of this relationship remains under-theorized. Using the case of a global, social, and environmental values-based banking network, we suggest that alternative ownership is likely a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to combat mission drift in enterprises that have a legal owner. A supermajority of this network’s banks deploy alternative ownership structures; those operating with these structures are disproportionately associated with social movements, which imprint their values onto the banks. We show how alternative ownership acts through specific mechanisms to sustain enterprises’ missions, and we also trace how many of these mechanisms are endogenous to alternative ownership models. Finally, we find that ownership models vary in how well they enable the expression and maintenance of these social values. A ladder of mission-sustaining ownership models exists, whereby the dominance of substantive, non-instrumental values over operations and investment becomes increasingly robust as one moves up the rungs from mission-driven investor ownership to special shareholder and member-ownership models.

Details

Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-989-7

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 11 April 2005

Joyce Rothschild and Amy Tomchin

A division of labor that segregates household labor from capitalist employment and that de-values women's work is ubiquitous in our society. This article examines Twin…

Abstract

A division of labor that segregates household labor from capitalist employment and that de-values women's work is ubiquitous in our society. This article examines Twin Oaks, a long-standing intentional community that is intensely focused on overcoming the gender-based inequalities they see in U.S. society. Specifically, they have tried to create a comprehensive alternative to capitalist work relations by developing a work system that values equally all forms of labor – from childcare to income-producing types of labor to pregnancy itself. We describe in this article the specific system they have developed for translating all forms of work into ‘labor credits’ on a one hour equals one credit basis and for encouraging men and women to perform work that in the surrounding society is often assigned to the opposite gender. We consider how they have accomplished this in some detail, and in our conclusion, we draw out some of the tensions or downsides this can create as well.

Details

Worker Participation: Current Research and Future Trends
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-202-3

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