Is the cooperative a better firm structure? Is it more likely to fulfill the role of an enterprise in the market given its specific structure of ownership, modes of governance and organizational values? Is it more likely to meet the requirements of justice, such as protecting liberty, equality or efficiency in society?
The Chaire de Coopération Guy Bernier will host an international conference to deal with questions of ownership of the firm, governance and organizational values, and their implications for social justice, both from a normative and an empirical perspective. The conference will take place at the Université du Québec à Montréal, September 27-28, 2018.
The mainstream view among governance and management scholars is that the corporation, not the cooperative, is the most desirable firm structure. Yet, the literature does not provide much scope to deeper justifications for economic markets, what a just political-economic regime is, and to how this might lead one to preferring one firm structure over another. Although a portion of the political philosophy and social sciences literature has been debating about issues of social justice and market fairness, scant attention has been paid to the private organizations within the market and the implications of theories of justice for the structure of the firm. A common view in that literature, if such a view exists, is that a cooperative structure is more desirable because it embodies other organizational values, it is not only focused on profit maximization, and it offers a better protection against the unjust concentration of wealth, economic power, and political power.
Who should own the private organizations of the market? Investors, workers, consumers, or other groups? What ought to be the specific modes of governance of these organizations? What should their values be? These questions are likely to have important implications for social justice issues. Organizations in these markets are wealthy, powerful, and have an impact on the daily lives of a large number of people, namely because they employ many of them.