Ownership and control rights in democratic firms – a republican approach
Review of Social Economy, 2020, vol. 78, issue 3, 411-430
Workplace democracy is often defined, and has recently been defended, as a form of intra-firm governance in which workers have control rights over management with no ownership requirement on their part. Using the normative tools of republican political theory, the paper examines bargaining power disparities and moral hazard problems resulting from the allocation of control rights and ownership to different groups within democratic firms, with a particular reference to the European codetermination system. With various qualifications related to potentially mitigating factors, such as workforce and shareholder composition or risk aversion and reallocation, the paper contends that forms of workplace democracy in which workers control and own the firm, such as cooperativism, are preferable to other forms, such as codetermination, in which ownership and control rights are formally separated.
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