Amanda Cook Humanities and Social Science
Decision-making structures and participation in heterogeneous worker cooperatives
I am studying how decision-making structures affect participation in heterogeneous worker cooperatives. Worker cooperatives are businesses or organizations owned and democratically managed by their workers. Previous research on worker cooperatives indicates a tendency towards homogeneity, meaning that worker-owners in a given cooperative share very similar backgrounds. However, since these studies were conducted in the 1970’s and 1980’s, worker cooperatives have become more diverse. A recent case study on a large and diverse worker cooperative suggests that formalizing decision-making structures might facilitate widespread democratic participation. I will expand upon this research by using participant observation and interviews to study two heterogeneous Bay Area worker cooperatives. I hope that my project will make a valuable contribution to the existing knowledge about cooperatives, possibly helping to create more democratic workplaces.