Current Research No. 6
Cooperative companies form part of the social economy-a third economic sector beyond the private and public spheres that embraces community, voluntary, and nonprofit activities. While corporations distribute their surpluses in relation to the capital contributions of shareholders, cooperatives do so according to activity of their members; in short, in a cooperative, capital is subordinate to work. The cooperative spirit has been an important feature of Basque society, from the traditional auzolan (literally, "neighborhood work") to the development of major cooperative companies like Alfa, Fagor, and ultimately Mondragon, the largest cooperative in the world and a major supplier of products and services nationally and internationally. This book focuses on the changes and challenges faced by the social economy in general and Basque cooperatives in particular in light of the crisis of the welfare state, the growth of neoliberal doctrines and greater privatization, and most recently of all, the global financial crisis. The book is divided into three parts: Part 1 analyzes the origins, values, and culture of Basque cooperativism. Part 2 focuses on innovation in and the management system of Basque cooperatives as a source of competitive advantage vis-a-vis traditional corporations. Finally, part 3 addresses the response of Basque cooperatives to globalization in general and the current global financial crisis in particular.