Patterns of co-operative management: Beyond the degeneration thesis

Cornforth, Chris (1995). Patterns of co-operative management: Beyond the degeneration thesis. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 16(4) pp. 487–523.



This paper presents case studies of the development of four relatively long-standing and successful worker cooperatives in the UK. It focuses in particular on how, as a result of growth and pressure for greater efficiency, the cooperatives have developed new management structures and a more specialized division of labour, and how these changes have affected democratic control and accountability. The paper presents further evidence that degeneration is not inevitable as cooperatives age and grow, and details how processes of regeneration may occur. The paper concludes by highlighting some of the different conditions and strategies that support workplace democracy. In particular, as cooperatives grow their management structures and procedures will need to be regularly reviewed and changed, both to remain efficient and give renewed expression to democracy.

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