I stumbled upon this remarkable Alternative Company fairly recently, in a Green politics newsletter: «MONDRAGÓN CORPORACIÓN COOPERATIVA» (MCC) is a competitive, rapidly expanding big corporation, the seventh largest in Spain and the largest in the Basque region, where it began. It has now expanded to a multinational corporation employing 82 thousand people. About half of MCC’s «employees» are partners and co-owners of the company itself, empowered with democratic rights and profit-sharing, as well as direct participation in the company’s decisions through the General Assembly, where the principle of «one person = one vote» is used.
UPDATE: In view of the current international crisis (in October 2008), this post has been brought again to this blog’s front page. Moreover, here are some new hot links of relevance to Cooperativism (and the current Crisis):
My Point of View: Of life, honor and cooperativism (Central Mindanao Newswatch, Philippines)
- Annamarielparinas’s Weblog
[more links to be added here later]
QUOTE of the day – a blog’s manifesto:
With the advent of advanced global communication, new forms of social contract can be created which transcend the geographic state. These new cybercoops or cyberstates will bring humankind to higher levels of cooperation and understanding.
The other half of MCC‘s employees belong to subsidiary companies affiliated to MCC in other countries, where MCC does not try to impose its democratic and cooperative principles, but instead encourages them, through the creation of incentives for worker participation and profit-sharing:
According to MCC’s Chairman, José María Aldecoa, in his www-message (where bold and italics are mine):
«MONDRAGÓN CORPORACIÓN COOPERATIVA is a business group made of 264 companies and entities organised in three sectorial areas: Financial, Industrial and Distribution, together with the Research and Training sectors.…
…we have been able to transform a humble factory, which in 1956 manufactured oil stoves and paraffin heaters, into the leading Industrial Area in the Basque Country and 7th in the ranking in Spain, with sales of 13,266 million euros in its Industrial and Distribution activities, 12,332 million euros of administered assets in its Financial activity and a total workforce of 81,880 at the end of 2006.
MCC’s mission combines the basic objectives of a business organisation competing in international markets with the use of democratic methods in its organisation and with special emphasis on job creation, the promotion of its workers in human and professional terms and a commitment to the development of its social environment.»
In this blog, as well as -especially- in my other blog «Future Politics« several posts in recent months discussed the idea of Cooperative Alternatives to the traditional capitalist business organisation, of companies in our time. «Future Politics«» is a humourous (Greek-speaking) Science-Fiction political blog, dedicated to personal visions a century ahead of our time: A future society where most companies are owned by the people, as autonomous collectives, and only a minority of companies are owned by wealthy individuals (who nevertheless are allowed to operate freely, providing some useful sound competition). Well, I was imaginative but also… severely misinformed, till now, as regards «Future Politics«:
- «People’s Companies» like those described in «Future Politics« (called «poly-collectives») already exist in our time!
- «MONDRAGÓN CORPORACIÓN COOPERATIVA» is a fine example!
Do you believe it? Well, if you have doubts, click on the following link, to see a brilliant text-and-video presentation of MCC‘s «Corporate Management Model»: http://www.mcc.coop/ing/quienessomos/modelo/index.html
Browsing MCC’s site (www.mcc.coop) I located several hot topics well-worth reading:
The «basic structure of MCC» is described as follows:
From a business point of view, the MCC’s activities are divided into three areas –Financial, Industrial and Distribution– which function independently within a global strategy co-ordinated by the Corporate Centre.
The Financial Area includes activities such as banking, social welfare and insurance. The Industrial Area comprises 12 Divisions dedicated to the production of goods and services. The Distribution Area is made up of various commercial distribution and agricultural-food enterprises. There are also a number of Research, Vocational Training and Teaching centres, including a University which has 4,000 students.
The individual co-operatives constitute the basic level of the MCC’s organisational structure, with the General Assembly acting as the supreme body for the expression of the will of the members and the sovereignty of the co-operative and the Governing Council acting as the ultimate body for management and representation, being responsible for appointing the Managing Director.
The eight Vice Presidents, along with the three Heads of Department at the Corporate Centre, together constitute the General Council, which is chaired by a President. The General Council is responsible for drawing up, co-ordinating and applying corporate strategies and objectives.
The Standing Committee of the Co-operative Congress is the governing body responsible for giving impetus to and controlling the carrying out of the policies and agreements adopted by the Congress, continually monitoring the MCC’s business performance and the management of the Presidency of the General Council. The Committee consists of 20 elected members representing the 14 Divisions of the Corporation.
The Co-operative Congress is the supreme body of the Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa, in terms of sovereignty and representation, equivalent to its main General Assembly. It is comprised by 650 delegates who represent all member co-operatives, and its decisions are binding on all of them.
An interesting article on Co-operativism, about Argentina’s workers’ initiative to run the factories of their (bankrupt) employers, is «Occupy, resist, produce» («New Statesman», 30 Aug. 2007):
Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis report on how Argentina’s worker-run factories have nurtured a powerful social movement, while seamstress Matilda Adorno explains how a dispute over pay became a political struggle…
The principles are so simple, so elementally fair, that they seem more self-evident than radical when articulated by one of the workers: «We formed the co-operative with the criteria of equal wages and making basic decisions by assembly; we are against the separation of manual and intellectual work; we want a rotation of positions and, above all, the ability to recall our elected leaders.»
UPDATE: New articles about MONDRAGÓN (2008):
- Socialists win Spanish elections [via Zemanta]
- Immanuel Wallerstein: “Ο καπιταλισμός αγγίζει το τέλος του” Μπλογκ: Κοινωνικά κινηματα και δικτυα
- My Point of View: Of life, honor and cooperativism
- Μερικά ενδιαφεροντα αρθρα για την Παγκοσμια Κριση του καπιταλισμου