Collaborative working relationships based on equality, autonomy, cooperation: Co-operatives are gaining ground given the much-discussed longing for more participation in relevance within the workplace. The approach of the co-operative is to put the company in the hands of its founders, thus forging the possibility to take the social and ecological challenges that accompany the current economic and digital transformation head-on. A co-operative is considered as an instrument in the formation of an inclusive and democratic economy. Digital co-operatives could anchor these principals into the digital economy.
Stakeholders offer insights into co-operatives
It is on these grounds that the Policy Lab Digital, Work and Society provided a workshop at re:publica 2019 regarding the topic of the (digital) co-operative. The Policy Lab invited those who were interested in starting a co-operative platform or those who were involved in "Platform Cooperativism" to an active discussion. At the workshop, there were four discussion partners from praxis: Tanja Krämer and Christian Schwägerl from RiffReporter eG, Claudia Henke from h3-o eG and Co-Initiator of rethink coop, Kim Stattaus from Fairmondo eG and organizations consultant Björn Stecher.
To begin, the contributors introduced the co-operatives they worked for and described their quotidian work. What followed was an exercise in collaborative work. All the participants split into four groups, which worked on separate themes - from the business model and the terms of references to the dynamic of the digital process. It concerned very concrete issues, but also foundational associations that the participants related to co-operatives. Co-determination and democracy, collaboration and involvement - all of these aspects are perceived as positive aspects of a co-operative. For Björn Stecher, the structure of co-operatives demonstrates "…how in a new age tradition can be transformed. Co-operatives are participative, independent, and despite this, still collaborative as well as constructive of a real-world value construct are reflective of the requirements of the current working world.
Throughout the discussion, it became clear: the digital co-operative has a place in the future. Even when decentralized work demands good organization, communication, and documentation, it allows for an entrepreneurial independence and makes room for creativity.