Call for Papers
In the face of the current financial crisis a vivid revival of interest in alternative organizational forms, including cooperatives, can be observed in the literature (Cheney et al., 2014). Cooperatives are mainly considered as an alternative way of organizing in the shadow of private and public sectors which is often presumed to be able to respond to economic challenges and at the same time to maintain social values, such as organizational participation and democracy.
Conceptual as well as empirical considerations regarding participative issues in cooperatives are quite contradictory. On the one hand, a number of authors (e.g. Rothschild-Whitt, 1979; Allgeier, 2011; Paranque & Willmott, 2014) place cooperatives into a prominent position among participatory forms of organizing, especially because of the principle "one member – one vote". On the other hand, a range of concepts, such as the so called "iron law of transformation" (Oppenheimer, 1913) or "degeneration thesis" (for an overview, see Storey et al., 2014), express strong skepticism regarding participatory power of cooperatives because of managerial dominance over democratic efforts. Several empirical studies support these ideas by providing evidence for the "successive de-democratization" as a result of the management control (Ringle, 1990), "apathy of cooperatives' members" (Patera, 1980) as well as participation practices as a "farce" (Bonus ,1994) based on ritualized members' voting on the basis of the ready-made lists of their representatives in the large cooperatives.
Instead of dealing with the dualistic question if cooperatives are able to maintain lively participation or if they mainly reproduce managerial forms of organizing, more recent studies point to tensions and contradictions cooperatives face while maintaining participatory values. Following these studies, conflicts can occur between democratic principles and the 'demands' of a global market (Flecha & Ngai, 2014) or as an ongoing contestation between workers and their representatives in cooperatives regarding democratic principles (Hernandez, 2006). Drawing on these tension- and paradox-oriented analyses, this call for papers invites conceptual contributions and empirical research on cooperatives with the focus on participative values and practices in these organizations as well as ambivalences and challenges emerging from participatory struggles within cooperatives, often linked with 'market demands'. Since most empirical studies up to now have dealt with large cooperatives, such as cooperative banks or cooperatives operating on a multinational level, we particularly encourage empirical contributions addressing smaller cooperative organizations covering different sectors in order to reflect the large width of participative practices.
We invite papers addressing a range of issues, including but not limited to the following topics:
- Different forms and initiatives of participation in cooperatives
- The mutual relationship between the (ascribed) identities of cooperatives' members and participation practices
- The interlink between the participation of members and of employees in cooperatives
- The relationship between direct and representative participation in cooperatives, including the role of trade unions and works councils in these organizational contexts
- Country-specific legal and institutional contexts of cooperatives and their impact on participation practices
- Conceptual contributions to the analysis of participation in cooperatives, e.g. exploring the appropriateness of democratic theory or concepts of organizational participation in the context of cooperatives
- Methodological and methodical issues of empirical undertakings in this field, such as critical discussion of suitable research methods or approaches for theory generation
- Allgeier, M. (ed.) (2011): Solidarität, Flexibilität, Selbsthilfe. Zur Modernität der Genossenschaftsidee. Wiesbaden: Springer.
- Bonus, H. (1994): Das Selbstverständnis moderner Genossenschaften. Tübingen: Mohr.
- Cheney, G., Santa Cruz, I., Peredo, A.M., & Nazareno, E. (2014): "Worker Cooperatives as an Organizational Alternative: Challenges, Achievements and Promise in Business Governance and Ownership." Organization, 21 (5), 591–603.
- Flecha, R., Ngai, P. (2014): "The Challenge for Mondragon: Searching for the Cooperative Values in Times of Internationalization." Organization, 21 (5), 666–682.
- Hernandez, S. (2006): "Striving for Control: Democracy and Oligarchy at a Mexican Cooperative." Economic and Industrial Democracy, 27 (1), 105–135.
- Oppenheimer, F. (1913): Die Siedlungsgenossenschaft. Versuch einer positiven Überwindung des Kommunismus durch Lösung des Genossenschaftsproblems und der Agrarfrage. Jena.
- Paranque, B., Willmott, H. (2014): "Cooperatives – Saviours or Gravediggers of Capitalism? Critical Performativity and the John Lewis Partnership." Organization, 21 (5), 604–625.
- Patera, M. (1980): "Anregungen zur Genossenschaftspolitik auf der Grundlage genossenschaftlicher Charakteristika." Zeitschrift für das gesamte Genossenschaftswesen, 30, 230–239.
- Ringle, G. (1990): "Mitgliederpartizipation in managementgeleiteten Genossenschaften." In: J. Laurinkari & J. Brazda (eds.): Genossenschaftswesen. Hand- und Lehrbuch. München: R. Oldenbourg, pp. 474–482.
- Rothschild-Whitt, J. (1979): "The Collectivist Organization: An Alternative to Rational-Bureaucratic Models." American Sociological Review, 44, 509–527.
- Storey, J., Basterretxea, I., & Salaman, G. (2014): "Managing and Resisting 'Degeneration' in Employee-Owned Businesses: A Comparative Study of Two Large Retailers in Spain and the United Kingdom." Organization, 21 (5), 626–644.