Research suggests that building a strong and powerful shared ideology within a worker-owned business is the key to success, Tim Armstrong reported in the Socialist Entrepreneur. The research describes why worker-owned firms should be treated like Kibbutzim, radical Jewish communes. In each, Armstrong reports, values shared within the community allow everyone to be more united, leading to success. Armstrong cites a 1997 study by Tal Simons and Paul Ingram, which showed that, in Armstrong’s words, how, between 1951-1965, Israeli Kibbutzim struggled “to resist degenerating into capitalist organizations and to stick to their founding socialist principals.”
Armstrong goes on to state that a common ideology within worker-owned businesses is hard to achieve as ideology often times has a negative connotation, especially when it is interpreted as antithetical to individualism. In a business setting, ideology should focus on collectivism and socialism as Simons and Ingram argued. Worker-owned business must constantly educate workers on the philosophy and the conditions necessary to run a cooperative business. Of course, this easier said than done, especially in the context of capitalist markets in which businesses that are not worker-owned seldom invest in educating their employees.
Armstrong suggests that worker cooperatives and worker-owned businesses need to seek new ways to fund their operations, and that founders of new worker-led businesses should “carefully plan how they will use selection (recruitment) and socialization (cooperative education) to establish a shared collective ideology in their business.”
Source: Tim Armstrong, “Degeneration and Regeneration 3: Kibbutzim,” The Socialist Entrepreneur, January 3, 2019, https://thesocialistentrepreneur.com/2019/01/03/degeneration-and-regeneration-3-kibbutzim/.
Student Researcher: Daniel Almog (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)