I have a new book out: Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy. It’s a peer-reviewed collection of cutting-edge scholarship on worker cooperatives and other decentralized and collectively owned enterprises. I edited the volume with Katherine K. Chen of the City College of New York and Graduate Center, CUNY, and the two of us also wrote a related op-ed for Fortune magazine, “Cooperatives can make economies more resilient to crises like COVID-19,” which is excerpted below:
With customers staying at home during the pandemic, large numbers of businesses have shuttered permanently, unable to cover their payroll and rent. Emergency governmental assistance has sustained some businesses during this period of economic uncertainty, but the crisis has also stoked interest in a private sector remedy: cooperatives.
In Baltimore, a pizzeria that shut when the pandemic hit reopened as a worker cooperative, its ownership shared equally among its 14 original employees. In Albuquerque, N.M., small farms pivoted from supporting restaurants and farmers markets, pooling their produce to sell directly to households. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a program to help struggling businesses reopen as employee-owned businesses.
As Congress deliberates how to safeguard the country from future crises, policymakers should consider recent research that shows how so-called alternative enterprises can make local economies more resilient. Sociologist Marc Schneiberg finds that counties with more cooperatives, credit unions, community banks, nonprofit organizations, and universities experienced fewer job losses during the Great Recession and greater job growth in its aftermath. This path-breaking finding suggests that such organizations are better able than their shareholder-owned counterparts to retain workforces when the economy falters—and more willing to invest in their communities when markets pick up again.