Individual Worker Co-op Census Survey: Data Access Application


Overview of Available Data

The Census of Individuals in Worker Cooperatives is the first national study of worker cooperatives from the perspective of individual employees and worker-owners.  Sponsored by the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) and conducted in partnership with the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC), Center on Wisconsin Strategy, and University of Wisconsin Survey Center, it provides high-quality baseline data about the workplace attitudes, experiences, and demographics of individuals who work at democratic worker-owned firms in the U.S.  Findings from the Census of Individuals in Worker Cooperatives are informing DAWI and USFWC efforts to build the field, advocate for worker co-ops in the political arena, and serve grassroots members. 


The study team collected quantitative data from a national individual-level, cross-sectional survey of 1,147 cooperative employees and worker-owners from 82 firms fielded January to May 2017.  It also collected qualitative data from semi-structured follow-up interviews with a stratified random sample of 15 respondents in the summer of 2017. All individuals and firms are de-identified in the dataset.  


The Census of Individuals in Worker Cooperatives builds on the 2010 Shared Capitalism at Work study by Douglas Kruse, Richard Freeman, and Joseph Blasi that documented how employee ownership through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and profit-sharing is associated with higher job quality, lower turnover, and more involvement in management decisions.  


The survey adapted several aspects of the Shared Capitalism at Work methodology and a critical mass of questions to allow researchers to compare responses from ESOP and co-op workers. The 58-item worker instrument also incorporated several questions on civic participation from the Current Population Survey and introduced new items specifically tailored to worker cooperatives, including a section on participation in firm governance and another that asked workers to compare various aspects of their current job in a worker cooperative to their previous job.  The 13-item point person instrument asked about enterprise characteristics, including basic demographics of all workers employed by each firm.


The qualitative data collection was loosely coordinated with the ongoing Rutgers Kellogg Study examining impacts of worker ownership on low-wage workers and modest-income families.  The semi-structured interview protocol focused on key themes of interest to DAWI that emerged from preliminary analysis of the survey data including employment history, factors that attracted individuals to their worker cooperative, overall compensation, other aspects of job quality and satisfaction, participation in workplace governance, civic participation, and demographics.  The interviews complement the survey data by describing workers’ experiences in their own words.


Use the following links to view our survey instruments and interview protocol:

Researchers interested in accessing the dataset should complete the application on this page.


Applications will be evaluated on:

  • The data adequately matching the proposed research project;
  • The intended plan specified by the investigator involving advancing the field of employee ownership, by contributing to questions of interest to practitioners as well as scholars.


A fee of $500 is associated with access to this dataset. You will be invoiced this amount once both parties sign the Data Use Agreement, after approval of your application. This fee can be reduced in certain circumstances. Please reach out to olga [at] outlining the circumstances for your petition to reduce this fee ahead of submission of your application.


Institutional Review Board Approval

Researchers must obtain approval from their own institutional review boards as appropriate. Any necessary local IRB approval can be obtained after DAWI approves the project. It is the responsibility of the investigator to determine if local IRB approval is necessary.


DAWI Involvement

Approval by DAWI does not carry with it any commitment to facilitate the execution of the project beyond access to and descriptions of the data.


Dataset Limitations

DAWI will only provide investigators with data files that do not contain individual or institutional identifiers. Due to the small nature of the sample universe, we ask that researchers work to protect the participants’ privacy and agree not to attempt to identify any of the participating firms or individuals per the data use agreement. The application asks researchers to detail the steps they will take to preserve confidentiality.


Terms of Approval

Data access is granted for a period of one year from when the data is received. If access to the data is needed for more than one year, a written request for access to the data for a second year is required and must be made prior to the original data access expiration date. After two years, data access expires. If access to the data is still needed, a written status update is required and a formal request for an extension of an approved project. Extension requests must be made prior to the end of the second year expiration date. If approved, extensions grant access to the data for a third and final year.



The investigator(s) must submit an electronic copy to DAWI of any and all reports, presentations, and publications based on the data prior to the time of publication/presentation. DAWI reserves the right to disseminate your findings on its website in a form compatible with any copyright agreement, if any. Under no circumstances may researchers share the data with anyone who has not been approved for access by DAWI.


Review of Proposals

When submitting your proposal, please allow up to four weeks DAWI to review your project and ask for clarifications. Proposals are reviewed in the order they are received. 

Please reach out to Olga Prushinskaya, DAWI's Metrics and Impact Analyst at olga [at] if you have any questions as you complete this application.

Principal Investigator
Will you be working with collaborators on this project? If yes, how many?
Collaborator 1
Collaborator 2
No longer than 400 words
Describe the proposed dissemination of the results, including: to whom results will be released, how the results will be released, and a timetable for release.
No more than 400 words
Please attach a reference letter speaking to your ability to implement the proposed project.
Files must be less than 3 MB.
Allowed file types: pdf doc docx.