Media library

Abstract: In the present paper we focus on the question to what extent co-operatives can be regarded as participatory forms of organization – as they are often represented – despite the growth-effects. For this, we draw on conceptual as well as empirical material. Whereas the previous research raises serious doubts concerning the role model of cooperatives as participatory firms, the results of our case studies suggest that given the considerable heterogeneity of the cooperatives a differentiated approach is necessary. For example, it turns out that the concrete forms of participation practiced in cooperatives are not only strongly influenced by the size of the organization, but are also shaped by the prevailing organizational identity and by the subscribed identity to the members of cooperatives. Instead of glorifying cooperatives as an institutionalized form of an alternative and de-growth oriented economy, the aim of this paper is twofold: first, to consider critically participative potential cooperatives supposedly or practically provide and, second, to initiate a discussion on the relevance of economic participation for post-growth practices.