Auteor: Baleren Bakaikoa and Eneka Albizu

Basque cooperativism

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). Commercial companies distribute their surpluses in relation to the capital contributions of shareholders, while cooperatives do so according to the cooperative activity carried out by 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 auzo-lan (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 not only to Basques, but also nationally and internationally. Today Basque cooperatives encompass all economic areas from credit unions to agricultural, housing, consumer, and transportation. This work 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-à-vis traditional corporations. Finally, part 3 addresses the response of Basque cooperatives to globalization in general and the current global financial crisis in particular.




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