A critical assessment of the ‘Mondragon’ cooperative alternative for capitalist corporations. An alleged radical alternative economic model that never existed. 

Monday 30 January 2023, 2:30 pm
Promovendus
H.H. Willems MSc.
Promotor(s)
prof. dr. H. Ernst
Co-promotor(s)
dr. O.T. Kramsch
Location
Aula

This dissertation  addresses the biggest and successful international network of cooperative enterprises, simply called ‘Mondragon’. This name referring to the birthplace of these cooperatives in the Spanish Basque Country.   

The Mondragon cooperatives are generally considered to be a radical alternative to the globally dominant neoliberal-capitalist operating form of enterprises.   

There is a longstanding debate regarding the viability of co-ops as an alternative to the hegemony of neoliberal-capitalist corporations. Many scholars argue that eventually co-ops will ‘degenerate’, that is, inevitably being forced to follow the capitalistic logic of doing business.   

This monograph presents a philosophical-theoretical underpinned critique of the ‘degeneration thesis’ based on the ‘Mondragon case’.  

In contrast to the mainstream explanation of Mondragon’s dilemmas, tensions and problems, conventionally linked to a ‘degeneration’ of its original values and principles, an ideology-critical alternative explanatory model is offered. This going back to the root causes of those problems, being its founder’s personalistic ideology.  

In order to enlarge the transformative capacity of the Mondragon cooperatives a critical reflection of its original ideology is required.  

Year of birth: 1950  

Place of birth: Ewijk (Gld), The Netherlands  

Education:  Secondary school, Dominicus College Nijmegen, HBS-A, 1962-1967;  Catholic University Nijmegen, Human Geography A, 1968-1976.  

Work experience:  lecturing didactics and curriculum development of geography at University of Amsterdam, Institute of Social Geography, 1976-1979;  geography teacher secondary schools; from 1980 till 2015 (retirement) working for the Province of Gelderland, as a policy officer mainly in the field of environmental policy. At the same time, for about twelve years, parttime councilor and alderman in the municipality of Huissen.  

Retired since 2015.