Thanks to all PC(J) friends and Nithin from Shareable!
See also the embedded clip. As we concluded … Let’s cooperate! 🙂
When presenting Platform Cooperativism as a fairer user-/worker-owned model of running online platforms, I often hear answers like “that’s a great idea, but it’s too difficult to realize.” However, technology to implement the co-operative digital economy is emerging. Solutions become available to sustainably crowd-source, share value, and govern democratically. Hexalina.io is one such example.
(from hexalina.io website)
It is now generally admitted that income inequality is one of the biggest problems of our world and a peril to the fabric of our society.
A few years ago, the rise of the “sharing economy” gave great hopes to change this: soon everybody would be self-employed, and benefit from the new opportunities unlocked by the internet, technology and platforms.
Industry adaption of Platform Cooperativism is the goal of the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium. Although awareness and motivation for the co-operative way is crucial, if there is no easy way to act upon, good intentions don’t get realized. That’s where technology solutions come into play.
The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.
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The percentage of employees employed by small and medium enterprises (SME’s) decreased from 80% to 70% in the last 20 years. Issues regarding the ownership succession of businesses are essential in the light of an aging society and the need for sustainable socio-economic development. The SME Cooperative Act of 1949 is for small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The creation of a worker co-operative law would allow the further formalization of the opportunity of business conversions into worker cooperatives in any business sector. Business successions to employees would create a fairer economy where the trinity of ownership (investors), management (managers), and value creation/utilization (workers, users) is balanced for the benefits of its active membership.
Number of SME’s in Japan has fallen by 1 million during the last 20 years
It would be great if we could already discuss co-operative ownership succession of large organizations. However, I’m not aware of a “buy-twitter-initiative” in Japan so far. So, the more immediate opportunity for Platform Cooperativism may lie with small and medium businesses. Over the past 20 years, the number of SMEs in Japan has fallen by about 1 million and the number of SME employees decreased from 80% to 70% percent of overall employment (White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016). I am not sure how much the demographic challenges of the aging society would be the cause of such a decline in the digital sector especially, as increasing eliminatory market dominance of the big corporations is an inherent feature of many digital platforms.
Opportunity for ownership succession to employees
I experience that Japanese observers are regretting the disappearing of SME’s due to a lack of successful succession management. A similar issue represents the continuing rural exodus. There is mentioning of that when the business successions among SMEs are becoming issues, business successions to non-family persons, such as employees, are increasing (Kubota, 2010). So, I feel there are lots of opportunities to promote the co-operative way, although the predominant family business succession models are to the family or third parties other than employees and are separating ownership and management. Japan is currently still one of the few developed countries without a worker coop law, which is certainly not helpful.
For example, in agriculture, the succession and inheritance aspect is (globally) less researched because there is a view that family farming is heading towards extinction anyway. However, as still many farms are owned and managed by families, there may be renewed interest in intergenerational and intra- and inter-family cooperative solutions such as worker co-operatives.
Japanese business cooperation
Japanese small businesses are typically strongly cooperating and sub-contracting between companies, also for the rehabilitation of (struggling) small enterprises. There is a system of Small and Medium Enterprise Cooperatives based on the SME Cooperative Act from 1949, facilitating small and medium enterprises that lack financial resources in the conduct of joint businesses based on a spirit of mutual-aid to raise their economic status. The joint business cooperatives are, e.g., joint store associations, chain business associations, joint investing companies and voluntary groups.
The Japanese business system, also described as “co-opetition”, a mix of severe competition and collectivist Japanese culture, may be a fertile ground for #platformcoopjp. On the other hand, tendencies of specializing employees to contribute to a collective raise the question of how easily employees can assume initiative and more active (intrapreneurship) roles in case of becoming part of an employee-owned/managed organization.
The Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium is continuing to collaborate and research for the exploration of opportunities in applying co-operative (platform) solutions to business successions and share the lessons learned also outside of Japan.
For an overview of Japanese socio-economic situation and the #co-operative landscape, please see the following articles (https://mathias-sager.com/2017/10/19/cooperatives-in-japan-article-series-overview/)
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (2016). White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan 2016. The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency
Kubota, N. (2010). 非親族承継における所有と経営の分離. 日本経営診断学会論集, 9145-151. doi:10.11287/jmda.9.145
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Draft formulation of a Japan-specific vision from a Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) perspective.
The People’s Disruption: Platform Co-ops for Global Challenges
November 10-11, 2017 / The New School, New York City
The first platform cooperativism event in 2015 popularized the #platformcoop concept, and the conference a year later brought together co-op and union leaders to push the model forward. This third event will zero in on ways that platform cooperatives can help to address some of the future’s most urgent challenges. The fairer digital economy we need is already emerging, but it won’t happen on its own. That’s where you come in.
- Learn about new platform co-op projects that are shaping this emerging ecosystem, from blockchain-based financing to user-owned clouds
- Reflect on research about platform co-op experiments in recent years
- Confront growing challenges from artificial intelligence to global governance
- Join leaders from co-ops, industry, labor, and social movements—from Associated Press to Black Lives Matter—to raise the scale of our ambition
Platform cooperatives are poised to be a dynamic, transformative force in building a more equitable economy for people across various income, race and class strata, starting with the most vulnerable populations. This is a political and economic movement that can disrupt Silicon Valley’s disruptors by shifting the focus toward fundamentally fairer forms of ownership and governance. Over the past few years, the burgeoning of platform co-ops, community currencies, worker’s tech, the solidarity economy, and B Corps have shown us that alternative economies are not only necessary but possible. Come help us make platform cooperativism part of the new normal.
Trebor Scholz, Camille Kerr, Nathan Schneider, Palak Shah
Alicia Garza / Felicia Wong / Brad Burnham / danah boyd / Joseph Blasi / Pia Mancini / Yochai Benkler / Juliet Schor
And many more: platform.coop/2017/participants
Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, National Cooperative Bank, Sharetribe, Hexalina, Freelancers Union, Institute for the Future, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, Shareable.
Also, don’t miss:
Platform Coop 2017: Technology Afterparty
(November 12, New York, NY)
An after-party for #platformcoop-obsessed tech developers and platform designers to come together and learn from one-another, connect, and co-create.
Register here —it’s free.
(November 15-17, Portland, OR)
Still accepting applications! If you’re a post-revenue founder interested in learning more about creating a more inclusive and ethical type of funding, be sure to visit www.zebrasunite.com.
More Information and Apply
Tenerife Colaborativa 2017
(November 23-27, Tenerife, Spain)
An opportunity to discover the keys that encourage economic paradigm shift and to explore initiatives that lead to practice.
It’s possible now to support the Platform Cooperativism movement to help secure peoples stake and share in online platforms and the digital economy.
Be it as an educator, as an IT expert, Executive MBA, or from a psychological point of view; I’m always arriving at the same conclusion. It is now the time we have to push further the awareness and application of feasible alternative cooperative economic models, in contrast, to ruthlessly extractive capitalism that a few shareholders and investors impose on us. People actually can claim back the ‘lost land’ and almost lost virtual world (buzzword internet neutrality, democracy, and freedom) from the ‘self-coronated landlords’ and Internet tycoons who are relentlessly increasing their fees while reducing social protection of their rent payers, users, and workers. Example companies, cases, stories, and approaches to the “old” and “new” world can be found here.
One answer and I think a historically critical opportunity to contribute to a fairer future, is Platform Cooperativism, which connects key stakeholders of the emerging cooperative platform ecosystem to create synergies in the pursuit of increased shared value, ownership, and governance.Platform Cooperativism supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical assistance, the coordination of funding, and events.
The movement is relevant for any individual and organization that is valuing sustainable online platform solutions. Cooperative values ensure that the prosperity and decision-making can be shared between value creators working together for mutual benefit and the transition to a more equitable platform economy.
What you can do:
- Subscribe to the website/blog and follow the social media
- Get active yourself by involving or sharing your work with us or start local engagements/advocacy groups
- Promote #platformcoop and #platformcoopjp
- Join the Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) or the Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) Consortium