Worker Ownership, Democratic Management and Developmental Freedom in British Worker Co-operatives

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis examines whether worker co-operatives are able to construct institutions of work which improve the control and security of individuals in an otherwise insecure liberal capitalist environment, drawing together literature on the viability of co-operatives, work within co-operatives and the 'developmental freedom' approach. This would be manifest in an increase in members' control over working life, an increase in economic security for individuals, and more meaningful work. The thesis extends upon the established theoretical foundations of the 'developmental freedom' understanding of work, which values control over work and control over time, by applying it to the worker co-operative. The thesis engages in a review of the theoretical and empirical literature on such organisations from economic and political perspectives, and original qualitative empirical evidence is provided by interviews at four case study co-operatives from the UK. The thesis concludes firstly that co-operatives offer an experience of work governed by social bonds of reciprocity and solidarity; secondly that they are beneficial for control over time for individuals in both the short and long term; and finally such firms are able to survive and develop in liberal capitalist economies, in part due to the embedded relationships of control within them, but under strain due to the constraints of such a system which in turn inhibit control.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of York
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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