Publications

The Democracy at Work Institute publishing program was created to develop practical resources, conduct research, and promote the thinking of cooperative developers and worker-owners. We will develop tools and resources to promote best practices for worker cooperatives, developers, and those interested in worker cooperatives as a tool for economic and community development. Our foundational research program will cover everything from a census of the number and type of worker cooperatives and cooperative development efforts, to research on access to capital for worker cooperatives. We will investigate barriers to cooperative development, and economic impacts of shared ownership. Our publications will also be a forum for cooperative developers and members to share their wisdom - and their opinions - about worker cooperative development and functioning. Topics are as broad as proposals for new anchor institution strategies and as specific as a thought piece on founders' credits and incentives for growth.

 

Industry Research Series: Craft Beer

Author(s): 
Tim Palmer
Year: 
2015

The Democracy at Work Institute has released the latest publication in the Worker Cooperative Industry Research Series, focusing on Craft Beer. The report examines the opportunities, challenges, and cooperative potential in the industry, which is still growing after more than two decades of upward trends. The success of Black Star Brewery and Pub Co-Op, as well as the ESOP-owned New Belgium Brewing Company provide models for replication and education. 

 

A Brief Guide to Understanding Employee Ownership Structures

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2015

This resource uses diagrams to depict how the different forms of employee ownership are structured. It focuses on the two primary vehicles for broad-based employee ownership in the United States: worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership plans.

Investing in Worker Ownership

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2015

For financial institutions looking to create deep and lasting impact, worker cooperatives are a powerful tool for economic and community development. They reduce inequality by allowing a greater segment of the population to build assets through business ownership. They combat poverty by providing access to employment for marginalized populations. And they strengthen local economies by rooting businesses in their communities.

Successful Cooperative Ownership Transitions: Case Studies on the Conversion of Privately Held Businesses to Worker Cooperatives

Author(s): 
Courtney Berner, Michaela Holmes, Anne Reynolds, and Joe Rinehart
Year: 
2015

The idea of selling a business to its employees and converting it to a worker owned cooperative is gaining traction as a viable succession strategy. It is a strategy that saves jobs, builds community wealth, and empowers workers to own and manage their own business. Worker cooperatives differ from other business entity types in that they are owned and democratically controlled by their workers, and workers share in the risk and reward of operating the business.

Building Shared Entrepreneurship

Author(s): 
Joe Rinehart
Year: 
2015

This resource is intended to give small business support organizations a background on how the worker cooperative model can help entrepreneurs reach their dreams.

US Worker Cooperatives: A State of the Sector

Author(s): 
Tim Palmer
Year: 
2015

Worker cooperatives have increasingly drawn attention from the media, policy makers and academics in recent years. Individual cooperatives across the country have been highlighted, and substantive studies have been conducted of the worker cooperative experience in other countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Canada and Argentina. But what do we know about worker cooperatives in the US as a whole?

Guide to Worker Cooperative Bylaws and Operating Agreements

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2015

After working with professionals to determine which entity type is right for your worker cooperative, the next step is to work with professionals to develop your governing documents. Bylaws and operating agreements should include high-level information about the governance of the organization. They clarify and codify the democratic governance and ownership of your cooperative, help provide a structure through which the cooperative can grow, and provide a last resort for conflict resolution if relationships break down.

The Rural Succession Dilemma and the Cooperative Solution

Author(s): 
Tim Palmer
Year: 
2014

This research paper summarizes an examination of the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) dataset for North Carolina and Iowa to gauge the potential for conversions of existing businesses to worker cooperatives. The data demonstrate that the potential is quite large, and that even if only a fraction of these successfully converted to worker ownership and continued to operate at their last year levels, there would be meaningful economic impacts. 

Becoming Employee-Owned

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr, Joe Rinehart
Year: 
2014

Becoming Employee-Owned is a guide for business owners interested in employee ownership. It provides an overview of the three primary transition approaches for employee ownership: worker cooperatives, ESOPs, and management buy-outs. Regardless of what stage the business is in--from expansion to succession planning-- this resource can help business owners understand their options for becoming an employee-owned company.

Choosing a Business Entity: A Guide for Worker Cooperatives

Author(s): 
Camille Kerr
Year: 
2014

When forming, worker cooperatives have an important choice to make regarding their legal entity. Each entity type has implications on important issues including taxation, employment law, and access to capital. This resource is intended to give a brief overview of the entity types and lay out the issues worker cooperatives may want to consider when choosing which is the best fit for the business at whatever stage it is currently in.